Hundreds of children with disabilities took part in the Borneo International Marathon today as part of a the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) initiative to promote an inclusive society.
The special three kilometre route for children with and without disabilities had encouraged positive attitudes and social acceptance of children with disabilities through sport, said Unicef in a statement today.
Unicef representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh said children with disabilities are often rendered invisible, excluded and discriminated.
"By running this marathon together, we dissipate those fears and misperceptions If today children with and without disabilities can run together, tomorrow they can learn together in the same class without discrimination," she said.
According to a Unicef study of four Malaysian states last year concluded that people with disabilities suffer from stigma, discrimination, isolation and marginalisation.
For example, 43.1 percent of respondents believed that it was disruptive for children to be in school with children with disabilities.
The study also concluded that children and adolescents with disabilities felt sadness, loneliness, embarrassment and anger when they were excluded.
Through the run today, children are able to learn about children with disabilities and the need for an enabling environment as well as the need for an inclusive, caring and healthy society, said Kinabalu Running Club and Race Director of the Borneo International Marathon Dr Heng Aik Cheng.
"Running together is just one way to show that we care and we want to do better.
"The success of the Borneo International Marathon this year is thanks to the dedication, hard work and sacrifice of our volunteers, Sabah-based organizations representing children with disabilities and Unicef," said Heng.
The event today was backed by renowned international and local disabled athletes such as Asean Para Games gold medalist Felicia Mikat and Australia's Katrina Webb, who is a three time Paralympics gold medalist.
The event, part of Unicef's #thisability campaign, was supported by the Sabah Cheshire Home, Seri Mengasih, CHILD, Bukit Harapan, Down Syndrome Association, Special Olympics Sabah, Sabah Society for the Deaf, Befrienders Kota Kinabalu and Palliative Care Association Kota Kinabalu.