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Integrating people with disabilities in sport in universities and schools

Copyrights: Abdelrahman Hammam

Integrating people with disabilities in sport in universities and schools

Mahmoud Shihata explains how sport can be made more inclusive in Egypt, especially in rural communities

Sports is one of the most important and successful tools that can be used to integrate individuals with different disabilities in society. Everyone has the right to practice sports, so our role, as coaches, must be of guiding and advising such individuals on how to join the sports field.

In Egypt, there is a scarcity of sport for development organizations that include or focus on integrating people with disabilities in and through their programs. Hence, efforts so far in this field have been limited.

Though the government has cooperated with some sports federations on this issue, more can be done in this field. It is imperative that in developing countries, as much support is extended to organizations that work with people with disabilities. A recognition and investment in the Special Olympics in Egypt has shown that partnerships are important and can further consolidate such integration and inclusion programs.

Integrating people with disabilities in sports in universities and schools

I believe that universities and schools must be targeted as potential avenues for integration and inclusion programs, since these are the spaces where the future generation of the society is learning and growing.

However, someone with a disability is studying at school or university may feel that they cannot play sports for the following reasons:

  • They do not believe in themselves and their ability to do any physical activity, because of their disability
  • They believe that sport may adversely affect their studies
  • Their family does not believe that sport can be used as a tool to integrate them into society

All of these reasons are a challenge we face when we try to integrate people with disabilities into a sporting program, especially in rural communities in developing countries, where there is not only a lack of services for the disabled, but also a culture of avoiding such people and their issues.

Therefore, we need to strive to addresses these challenges through these the following:

  • Conducting activities inside villages, schools, and universities which highlight success stories of people with disabilities. For example, highlighting the story of Mohammad Al-Kilany, the first Egyptian and Arab who ran 100 km with an artificial limb
  • Creating a special program for players to train them on how to include people with disabilities in trainings, in cooperation with Paralympic and Special Olympic federations
  • Creating separate programs for families of people with disabilities to show the safe environment that sport can offer their children on a personal and societal level
  • Establishing a vocational rehabilitation program to support people with disabilities at a professional level, so that they become successful individuals with a tangible role to play in society

These solutions may require the presence of resources such as an online platform that contains best practices on integrating people with disabilities in sport, for trainers and physical education teachers to access for their programs. This platform could also include a section for people with disabilities, so that they can realize the possibilities for them in sports. This section could highlight the different activities they can participate in and the training facilities where they could do so. Another section could also highlight success stories of persons with disabilities in the sporting realm, as well as ways in which other organizations, individuals, federations and government bodies can support such initiatives.

Ideas for integration

Some ways in which people with disabilities could be encouraged to engage in sports, especially for school and university students in rural areas in developing countries, include:

  • Allowing students with disabilities in schools and universities to participate in sporting activities, while making awareness programs for non-disabled students on how to integrate disabled students in sporting activities
  • Creating a sports league that includes a group of physical activities where both disabled and non-disabled students practice with each other
  • Focusing on giving individuals with disabilities a leadership role during training, which would increase their self-confidence
  • Expanding the work of sports academies in rural areas, in partnership with youth centers and relevant federations

Mahmoud Shihata has a Bachelor's degree from the Faculty of Physical Education, Menoufia University, Egypt. He is a member in the UN SGDs Advocates Program with the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office in Egypt.

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

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Published

Sunday, November 22, 2020 - 19:22

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