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Making sport inclusive: Perspectives from Peru

Copyrights: Luis Edwin Torres Paz

Making sport inclusive: Perspectives from Peru

To make sport and recreation more inclusive, we must change the attitude of the general public towards disabilities, by raising awareness around para-sport and by mainstreaming persons with disabilities into society from a young age.

In Peru, there are very few policies or spaces for recreation and sports that promote inclusion. In order to make inclusive sports a reality, we must focus on changing the attitudes of the general public towards disabilities. This can be done by raising awareness around international para-sporting events and by media campaigns around para-sports and para-athletes. Further, inclusion must be mainstreamed into the schooling system, so that awareness is raised from a young age.

Para-sports in South America

In the South American region, most of the work is being done in conventional sports. There has been some work on the promotion of women’s sports, which is related to SGD 5, gender equality. Given the success in women’s sport, I think it is crucial that the UN considers and SGD specifically for inclusion of people with disabilities, so that more programs and projects can be developed to reach disabled people.  

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population has a disability. I propose that developed countries should work towards promoting the issues of disability and inclusion, and should increase the numbers of projects that are disability friendly in developing countries, like Peru.

Further, more visibility should be granted to international contests in disability sport, to increase acceptance and investment. For example, in 2019, Peru hosted the Para Pan-American Games in Lima. This saw many public campaigns, which increased people’s awareness and respect for the disabled and on issues of inclusion.

At a national policy level, there is a long road ahead of us. Many of us are continually fighting for the government to raise budgets and spend more money on the training of para-athletes, but this has not been realised.

Building foundations

For a successful program, there need to be well-structured foundations. Thus, part of the path to success to develop the potential of people with disabilities is to train teachers and instructors in the concepts of and approaches to disability and inclusion.

Inclusion needs to be worked on starting from schools, since children and adolescents are the future of the country, those who will govern and implement these policies. There is barely any funding for disabled children to be exposed to para sports in public schools.

In school and university curricula, include teaching and the practice of para or adapted sports would build awareness and knowledge, thus generating inclusion. This will also promote people to think beyond conventional sports.

Policies need to focus on not only the elite athletes, but also every disabled person who wants to participate in sports, even recreationally. People with disabilities need to be given the opportunity to participate in sporting programs, since they are often denied such experiences. By building spaces for such activities, people with disabilities could develop in a more holistic manner.

Luis Edwin Torres Paz has a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education, a Master's in Cognitive Psychology and a Doctorate in Education. He is passionate about sports for development and disability. You can find him on LinkedIn

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

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Sunday, November 22, 2020 - 18:53

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