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Including people with severe motor disabilities through boccia in Uruguay

Copyrights: Santiago Guido

Including people with severe motor disabilities through boccia in Uruguay

Boccia began to be developed in Uruguay in 2012, and since then, it has been used to build institutional spaces in response to the sporting demands of people with severe motor disabilities.

In the following work we report the experience of how boccia has developed in Uruguay. It began in 2012 and has had great milestones since then through a practice based on human rights, which has generated institutional spaces in response to the sports demand of people with severe motor disabilities.

In 2012, at the initiative of the municipality of Montevideo, boccia meetings and championships began in Uruguay. Coming out of a practice based on human rights, boccia has been used as a tool by different institutions that develop physical activities for people with motor disabilities to articulate their demands and rights.

This project proposes the realization of a series of sporting events through boccia at the community level for people with motor disabilities. This sport is an excellent tool to promote the organized participation of persons with motor disabilities, with the aim of facilitating encounters, exchanges, and coexistence. The project is aimed and children, young people and adults with motor disabilities, regardless of their affiliation with any institution.

The foundation of this project is that there are various recreational and sports proposals for people with disabilities, but none that take this sport as its axis. Boccia is a Paralympic sport, which allows and encourages competition for people with severe motor disabilities. For this part of the population with disabilities, there are very few sports programs in which they can participate.

The implementation in circuit format works to develop the activity keeping access as a priority – hence, programs are brought closer to the population, rather than the other way around. The mobility barriers of participants are thus reduced, facilitating their presence in the programs.  Further, this model also allows the wider community to be involved.

In this intersectoral programme, national and departmental institutions participate to develop actionable items for people with motor disabilities. Some of the institutions that make it up are the National Sports Secretariat (SENADE), National Disability Program (PRONADIS), Territorial Offices of the Ministry of Social Development, Sports and Disability Secretariats of the Municipality of Montevideo, Higher Institute of Physical Education (ISEF) University of the Republic (UdelaR), Institutions for people with disabilities Association for the recovery of the Invalid (APRI) National Organization Pro-Crippled (ONPLI), and athletes and adapted sport trainers.

Inter-institutional processes like this project ensure that young people with disabilities have their voices included in the larger public policy development process as well.

This project carried out the first boccias circuit in July 2013, with a rotating modality throughout the territory of Montevideo, closing the first cycle with a sports competition, in which the winners of each territorial event faced-off. This project has been rapidly growing, and, as of November 2019, there are more than 150 people with severe motor disabilities who actively participate.

Santiago Guido is a Professor at the Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay. He is also a boccia coach and the coach of the Uruguayan Blind Soccer Team.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]

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Santiago Guido

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Monday, November 23, 2020 - 19:15