Surfing4Inclusion: Bringing adapted surfing to Portugal
Surfing4Inclusion: Bringing adapted surfing to Portugal
Surfing4Inclusion is a Portuguese sports and social innovation project, developed by the Ericeira Surf Club. Based on its holistic development model, the project is based on the principles of participatory citizenship and sustainable development. At the centre of this process are people with disabilities.
This project is supported by a network of partners, including the Ericeira Surf Club, the Portuguese Surfing Federation, local surf schools within the Mafra municipality, the University of Beira Interior and social economy organizations working on the rehabilitation of the disabled persons.
The Surfing4Inclusion project aims to contribute to the development of innovation in adaptive surfing. This includes supporting the creation of different, adaptive surfing training methodologies and programs which are adapted to the classification of disability. These methodologies have been created on a scientific basis in order to develop athletic talents and train coaches, teachers and staff belonging to clubs, schools and federations.
We plan to carry out a local pilot with 14 people with different disabilities, between 18 and 45 years (25% women) who, for 24 months, will use the methodology and training program for indoor and outdoor surfing to develop social and sporting skills in adapted surfing.
Surfing thus emerges as a tool that promotes the development of social, personal and professional skills that generate autonomy, well-being and happiness in people with disabilities.
The Surfing4Inclusion project is a systemic approach which integrates sports practice with psychosocial development and education on values and health, which are concepts linked to (a) the promotion of healthy behaviour and habits, (b) balanced diet and nutrition, (c) combating obesity, and (d) the development of innovative training. The training methodology has been adapted to various surfing modalities, considering the need of each handicap and the degree of disability.
This project also aims to challenge the belief that surfing is an expensive and elitist sport which needs large investments and is generally inaccessible. This sport is very popular on the Portuguese Atlantic coast, a result of the economic geography of the region. However, we intend to socialize this sporting practice into the interior of the country, and bring those people who have never seen to sea to come out and surf.
Based on this premise, the Ericeira Surf Club intends, in 2021-22, through the establishment of a set of protocols, built in collaboration with various rehabilitation institutions and municipalities, to provide 500 people with disabilities from different contexts with the possibility of experiencing the sport of surfing in the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve. Simultaneously, we intend to develop a recruitment process to build a pool of future adapted surfing athletes.
Based on these premises, Ericeira Surf Clube intends, in 2021-22, through the establishment of a set of protocols with various rehabilitation institutions and municipalities to provide 500 people with disabilities from different contexts of disadvantage, the possibility of experiencing the practice of Surfing in the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve and, simultaneously, to develop a recruitment process that would originate a pool of future adapted surfing athletes.
Some of the actions that we have achieved and would like to work towards include:
- The development of technical programs and surfing training methodologies, adapted with a scientific basis to adjust to different disabilities
- The creation of an adapted surf centre within the Ericeira Surf Club, including a gym and training centre, certified by the Surf Federation, DGERT and IPDJ
- The development of a pilot program with 14 users with multiple disabilities, who will be part of a study and scientific analysis to understand what works in an adapted surfing program. The program includes regular training sessions, indoors and outdoors, and the study will research their physical and sporting abilities as well as changes in their behaviour and sociability
- The promotion of the social inclusion of people with disabilities through surfing, by giving 500 people with disabilities to try one of three surfing practices – surf, bodyboard and SUP. This will allow us to identify talent, with the possibility of training them to surf competitively
- The promotion of employability by creating 10 jobs for people with disabilities in the local surf economy, namely in the ecosystem of the Ericeira World Surf Reserve
- Technical training of sports agents in adapting surfing, including surf clubs, schools, coaches, athletes, judges, teachers and rehabilitators, and training of tour operators to know how to welcome and create an inclusive environment for tourists wanting to engage in adapted surfing
- The construction of a volunteer scholarship to support local surf schools to develop social responsibility projects
- The dissemination of information about these activities at a local, national and international level through events and social networks
- Transformation of the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve into an accessible and disability-friendly space
- The promotion and development of a European and world surfing network for adapted surfing, which has a special focus on sports, education and social inclusion
Miguel Toscano is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Ericeira Surf Club.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]