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Including persons with disability in sport

Copyrights: Club Brugge Foundation

Autistic youngsters revel with Club Brugge

Club Brugge’s Voetbalkraks project gives autistic children the change to play sport and feel included.

Voetbalkraks is an initiative run by the Club Brugge, one of Belgium's most successful sides, which gives autistic children the chance to play their favourite sport and to feel included in society.

The project began in 2007, when one of the club’s youth coaches, who is also a teacher, grew tired of telling youngsters to compete and began using his skills in support of autistic children instead. In doing so, he harnessed football’s special ability to help young people of all backgrounds to integrate and develop.

“The project provides children who are sidelined, in both a sporting and social sense, at many clubs with a structure in which they can participate, a team to which they can belong and where they can wear the colours of the club they love with pride,” Club Brugge Foundation coordinator Peter Gheysen, who heads up a number of community and social initiatives, told FIFA.com.

“They are part of a family and their parents feel that they are part of society too. They can play football, train every week and play matches, just like any other young person.”

Just like any other young person, but in conditions perfectly tailored to their situation.

“Our coaches are trained and selected specifically because they have the qualities that allow them to adapt to autistic youngsters,” explained Gheysen, who has been running the foundation since 2009. “Autistic children need a different approach in terms of structures and communication.

"For some, the slightest change to a programme can cause a lot of upset. The structure of training sessions and the repetition of specific movements and exercises can be reassuring for them. Our coaches pay attention to all those details.”

Having got off the ground with one coach and around ten children, Voetbalkraks now has no fewer than 16 coaches and a group of 60 boys and girls aged six to 18. With roughly one coach for every four youngsters, it provides the ideal setting for budding footballers who often need a one-to-one approach to aid their integration into groups.

“Football is the most popular of all team sports, and some autistic children find it hard to be part of a team or to interact with other children,” said Gheysen. “How do they behave with their team-mates, learn to win, accept defeat, respect opponents? Thanks to Voetbalkraks, they can develop as football players and they can also enhance their communication skills.”

Aside from running adapted training sessions every week, the club organises regular non-sporting activities to strengthen the youngsters’ sense of belonging to the Bleue et Noire family and improve their social integration skills.

Ranging from quizzes on the club’s history to educational workshops on the food professional players eat and the importance of eating a balanced breakfast, these activities are a way for children to learn without even realising it. It is knowledge they are only too happy to take on board, coming as it does from the club they love.

Confidence boost

Though the main focus of the Voetbalkraks mission is the youngsters themselves, the project also strives to bring about society’s acceptance of a condition it often fails to understand.

“When someone is in a wheelchair you can see it, but autism is invisible," said Gheysen. "You can’t see it straightaway in children. That’s why we’re trying to give this team some exposure and organise events that show they’re people with talent and qualities too and who can play an integral part in society.”

The Voetbalkraks youngsters share regular training sessions with the first-team players, watch their matches and escort them on to the pitch as matchday mascots.

“We’re trying to change the image and perception that fans and society in general have of autistic people,” said Gheysen, who believes that there is no better reward for the club’s investment than the smiles on faces at the end of training sessions and the positive feedback from parents on their children’s progress.

“They often tell us that they can see them developing because every week there’s something that motivates them, that they can’t wait for, that makes them proud and gives them confidence in themselves.”

Although more and more Belgian clubs are setting up structures for people with mental disorders, only three of them run teams specifically for autistic youngsters. The work they do has a positive impact on the development and integration of these children and also shows that autism is not a condition that has to be treated but simply a difference that does not prevent them from performing. For Club Brugge and their Voetbalkraks, that difference has become both an opportunity and a source of great pride.

  • A version of this article was originally published on FIFA.com. Read it here

 

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11/20/2020 - 13:19

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Copyrights: Tiro en Braille

Braille Shot (Tiro en Braille): A pioneer university SDP project

A student created project at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico sees both abled and disabled students participate in sporting activities which targets three of the most common problems facing Mexican students: drop-out, suicide, and gender and ability-based imbalances.

As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, it becomes more difficult to talk about the novelty of sport for development and peace (SDP). The first two decades of the century have witnessed the increased institutionalization of SDP within the United Nations system, as well as its heyday in the academic world.

There are 1023 organizations on the Swiss platform sportanddev.org (as of the end of October 2020). It is possible to identify certain patterns: a significant share of organizations (314 organizations, or 30.69%), use soccer, and 72.29% of these 314 organizations use soccer as the exclusive sport for conducting their initiatives. There are 141 organizations (13.78% of organizations) that make some reference to universities within their websites and/or displayed documents.

Regarding people with disabilities, 321 organizations (31.37%) work with people with disabilities and 37 of such organizations (3.61%) work exclusively with people with disabilities. Lastly, there are 77 initiatives that have worked with either the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and/or with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which equals 7.52% of all organizations.

If we filter the organizations that do not use soccer, that mention universities, that work with people with disabilities, and those that include either the SDGs or the MDGs within their agendas, we find out that just 8 organizations (0.78% of all organizations) overlap somehow with our organization.

After reviewing the organizations contained in the sportanddev.org platform, we may safely conclude that organizations and initiatives working significantly with university students are scarce. Moreover, university students themselves do not appear to be a significant target group of SDP organizations and projects.

At University of Guanajuato, in central Mexico, Braille Shot is a ground-breaking initiative that was started in the summer of 2019. We acknowledge the power of sport as a tool of social transformation, but we are also critical about some of its shortcomings.

A three-component – teaching, research, and practical sport activity – project was launched, trying to give response to at least three common problems that currently Mexican students face: drop-out, suicide, and gender and ability-based imbalances. Additionally, in order to ensure sound normative and policy foundations, it was decided that whatever sporting activity resulted from the project would have to align with Mexican legislation (Mexican Constitution, the Federal Law on Physical Culture and Sport, as well as the 2019-2024 National Development Plan), as well as to be rationally and purposely attempting to comply with the greatest amount of the 169 targets stated in the Sustainable Development Goals contained in the 2030 Agenda.

During the 2019 fall term, a call for proposals was launched, calling for students of Universidad de Guanajuato’s to design a sporting activity which fully complied with the following criteria:

  • At least 50% of participants of each team must be women
  • Each team must include students from at least two different faculties.
  • The resulting sporting activity must be suitable to be played in an all-gendered, all-ability tournament (i.e., there would be no separated women and men’s tournament and there would be no para-tournament)
  • The sporting activity must be suitable to be played by people with different capabilities
  • The sporting activity shall not use any materials or inputs made from fossil fuels
  • The sporting activity shall be inspired by one or more Pre-Columbian game(s), and if financially possible, uniforms shall be knitted by local (municipal) or national (Mexican) artisans, preferably those working with indigenous embroideries

The inclusion of people with disabilities was a requirement in the call for proposals for the project; however, it was up to the students to decide how exactly and under which terms they would be included. The winning team decided that the 2019-2020 disability to be addressed was vision impairment/blindness.

Of course, there are structural challenges that our project faces when working to include persons with different capabilities in sport. The primary challenge is the lack (or difficulty) of accessible infrastructure for the sporting activity to take place. Another problem is to determine the best way to respond, as practitioners, to the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, rather than acting based on our assumptions.

In Braille Shot, we have come up with different ideas which makes the sporting activity accessible to all. This includes:

  • Requiring all players to be blind-folded, regardless of impairment, hence leveling the playing field for all
  • Designing balls with sleigh bells inside, to address the needs of those with vision impairments
  • Placing silence requirements in the rulebook, to allow the players to hear the ball clearly

The value of our project is not the resulting sport, Braille Shot, per se, but the purposeful methodology that has led to its creation. Following this path, many sporting activities for differently abled people can be developed, taking into consideration specific geographical, cultural and economic conditions.

Daniel Añorve Añorve is a professor of International Relations at the Department of Government and Political Studies at Universidad de Guanajuato and the project leader.

Luis Jozabad Gutiérrez Herrera is a senior student of Political Science at Universidad de Guanajuato and a research assistant of the project.

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11/20/2020 - 13:00

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Copyrights: Special Olympics Australia

Help at hand for teachers to include children with autism in school sport

A Special Olympics Australia webinar series drew in thousands of teachers and coaches desiring simple and effective strategies to get the ever-growing number of students with autism playing and enjoying sport at school.

While COVID-19 related restrictions prevented face-to-face talks this year, an innovative online learning program from Special Olympics Australia shared proven approaches to tackling barriers that prevent people with autism from joining sport.

The six-part webinar series titled, Autism Inclusion in Sport, Recreation and Physical Education attracted 2,129 registrations. A third of participants were teachers and a quarter were sports coaches, with the most watched webinar being Inclusive Practice for Physical Education Teachers and Schools.

Nicole Rinehart, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Deakin University and one of the webinar presenters, says it was “incredibly exciting” to see this response, especially from physical education teachers wanting to learn how to practically support children with autism in school sport.

Sport is critical for all children’s physical and social development, Rinehart says, but sports at school can be one of the biggest challenges for young people with autism.

“They sit behind multiple invisible barriers, including communication and motor developmental issues.”

Of the 205,200 Australians with autism, 83 per cent are under 25 and 68 per cent have a profound or severe core activity limitation. Local data also shows that 72 per cent of people with a disability do not do enough physical activity for their age. 

Teachers can see there is a problem, and they want to help, but previously they haven’t had the strategies, Rinehart says.

To address this, the webinars brought together presenters comprising people with lived experience of autism, teachers experienced in supporting young people with autism, researchers, and inclusive sports program deliverers. 

Sarah Wheadon, the Project Specialist at Special Olympics Australia who led the webinar series project, says participants valued the opportunity to connect with people with lived experience of autism, one of whom was Elise Muller.

Muller, an IndigenousVictorian Football League Womens athlete living with autism, generated the most interaction during the live webinars.

Hearing from Muller helped to demystify the condition for webinar participants. She showed how teachers and coaches can adapt their practices to focus on what children with autism can do and enable them to use their strengths.

Inclusion doesn’t mean everyone doing the same thing, Muller explained. It involves adapting the environment so that everyone is included, not forcing a person with disability to adapt to the environment.

When a child with autism is not included, Rinehart says, it is because of the structures and systems in place and not because of the abilities of the child.

“The question is not, ‘how do we support a child with autism’, but ‘how do we make our school fit for all children, regardless of their ability?’”

For teachers seeking answers, the volume of available information can be confusing to navigate, so Rinehart says it is important to condense best practice information into simple strategies that teachers can use to communicate with young people and parents. 

Through the webinars, Rinehart says, “We’ve been able to give teachers a profile of young people with autism and their strengths, and feasible strategies to implement.”

The webinars remain free to access on Special Olympics Australia’s e-learning platform, SOA Learn, for anyone wanting to be more effective at including people with autism in sport.

 

Andrea Phillips works at Special Olympics Australia, assisting the organisation to share its stories.

Special Olympics Australia strives to ensure that everyone living with an intellectual disability can participate in sport. We provide:

  • Weekly grassroots sporting, recreational, social and health activities in local communities around Australia.
  • An environment where people with an intellectual disability can develop physical fitness, build self-esteem, demonstrate courage, and make friends.
  • Competition pathways ranging from weekly club events, to regional, state, and national games, culminating in the Special Olympics World Games.

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11/20/2020 - 12:51

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Copyrights: Pixabay

Measuring GAPPA and people with disabilities

Kwok Ng explores how the erasure of people with disabilities starts at a data collection and census level, leading to a failure in setting policies for the promotion of their physical health and well-being.

Promoting physical activity to people with disabilities is a very important job. Physical inactivity has a high cost in terms of co-morbid conditions, shorten lifespan, and being physically active can improve a persons’ mental, social and physical health.

As the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for Physical Activity (GAPPA) strives to advocate physical activity opportunities for all people, there is a need to monitor and captures its progress. One of the targets is to reduce physical inactivity by 10% by 2030. This target is a relative reduction, which means, that if the population has 30% inactivity, then the target would be to be to have a 27% inactive population, a net difference of 3%, and if 50% of a population was inactive, then the target would be 45%, or a 5% net difference.

As policy makers and practitioners bounce around these numbers, they often fail to include people with disabilities. This is often not a fault of the people who report these statistical figures, rather a problem exists with the way the data collected does not include measures that disaggregate by disabilities.

According to the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, Article 31 – statistics and data collection, each state party must take responsibility to collect, maintain and disseminate data so that appropriate policies can take place. In general, many countries fail on this point, let alone on disability and physical activity statistics. Action must be taken to ensure that relative percent of change of people with disabilities is known, so that resources and programmes can be implemented efficiently.

One disability data tool is the Washington Group in Disability Statistics (WG) toolkit for surveys. The WG is a leading organisation that develops suitable survey instruments for the census and national surveys. The approached used by the WG is to ask individuals their functional difficulties, and not their condition. This has been seen as an effective method to collect data on people with disabilities that would normally not be included in the census, especially in countries where there is a stigma towards people with disabilities.

The WG has been translated into multiple languages and tested in many settings, including the global south. There was also a collaboration with UNICEF to bring the Child Functioning Module (CFM) that can be used by parents or teachers, and some of my work has been to examine the usability of self-reported measures from the CFM. It is this self-report method that I believe has the most strength and impact to make on the lives of people with disabilities, as the children can also report other aspects of their lives that parents would not know about.

For example, in many cases, parents do not know what type of physical activity or sports their child may like to do. Parents may feel their child likes to take part in some kind of sport, but in fact the child may like to be with their friends doing another activity or sport. Parents may think the child is being physically active during physical education in school, but instead is being told to attend a different type of lesson. Unfortunately, these types of discrepancies are not uncommon.

Yet, when a child reports their own levels of physical activity there is more meaning that can be associated with it. It is therefore essential that we find a right set of measures that we can use to collect data and disaggregate by disabilities. It is then that it makes it possible to provide accurate estimates that can be used to drive policies and health promotion activities as reporting of targets become more realistic.

Kwok Ng, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor in Health Promotion and Adapted Physical Activity and is Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Educational Sciences and Psychology at the University of Eastern Finland, Finland and the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland. 

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11/20/2020 - 12:26

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Copyrights: Paralympics Australia

Our Paralympians: Beacons of hope and inspiration in an uncertain world

Last week, we celebrated exactly 20 years since the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. While there are differing views of the ongoing legacy of such games, there is no disputing the impact that they have on the amazing athletes on which the show revolves around, and the often transformative role they play in challenging wider society’s attitudes to people with disability and what they can achieve.

Numerous research papers, reports and surveys can attest to the positive (and negative) impact and legacy of disability sporting events, so I will leave it to those voices directly involved to tell it as they see it.

Louise Sauvage, who lit the Paralympic cauldron at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games said: "It didn't matter whether you had a disability or not, [the audience] just saw sport and they saw it perhaps in a little different light.”

Sauvage went on to change the sport of wheelchair racing by becoming one of its first truly professional athletes and, in the process, dominated it for a decade and raised the profile and perception of Paralympic sport and Paralympic athletes in Australia and around the world.

Australian wheelchair basketball champion, sailor and politician, Liesl Tesch, had the opportunity in September this year to join a room of the key organisers of the Sydney 2000 Games. She said: “I am going to cry with gratitude to the people in this room who changed the lives of athletes with disability. You made it an accessible city, you have given us a voice, you have given us dignity. Before they would say ‘what’s wrong with that lady,’ now they ask ‘what sport does she do?’”

During the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australian of the year nominee Kurt Fearnley, a multiple Paralympic gold medallist in wheelchair racing, said: We’ve had disability on the television, in the papers, all across social media. Not because we had been denied access to a flight, been involved in an accident or stuck outside a building with a flight of stairs blocking access. We’ve been in your faces because of hard work, determination and success on the track and in life. We are too often marginalised by invisibility. These Games have helped remove that cloak.”

Ellie Cole, an Australian para-swimming gold medallist at the same event, said: “A constant theme in the many messages I’ve got is from people saying they are going to get off the couch and exercise because seeing a para-athlete race they realise they have no real excuse not to get out there and get healthy. The ones I really love have come from parents of kids with disabilities who say their child has just lost a leg to cancer and they want to be like me because they see us on TV.”

Australian journalist Malcolm Knox said after watching the competition: Para athletes bring a diversity of backgrounds to their events. They have arrived after travelling myriad different paths. Some athletes have taken up sports as therapy after injuries or inherited or acquired disabilities. Para sports are not just sports; they are vehicles of education.”

The Paralympic Games are the third largest sports event on the planet, in terms of ticket sales, and the world’s number one sports event for driving social inclusion. The Games provide world-class sport and also help to transform attitudes towards the world’s largest marginalised community, the one billion people across the globe who have a disability.

International Paralympic Committee Vice-President, Duane Kale said: “Everybody has a contribution to make, but unfortunately, often people with an impairment are judged by what they can’t do. But here, they are judged in an athletic environment and what they can achieve. That changes society, it flows into business, into economics and the well-being and progress of countries. Para-sport normalises disability and impairment within society.”

International Day of People with Disability is a timely occasion to recognise the important role our Paralympic role models have played in inspiring people to stay healthy throughout the COVID-19 crisis this year. The pandemic has changed the world and re-focused our priorities in sport and our communities. For the Paralympic movement, it presents a chance to showcase the strength and breadth of human endeavour, resilience and hope, and to help us all to work towards a more diverse and inclusive society.

Dr. Paul Oliver works on promoting social justice and human rights issues in sport, such as inclusion, safeguarding, good governance and integrity. He works with international/national/state sporting organisations and clubs and the people who lead them to help address challenging conteporary issues in sport. 

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Paul Oliver

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11/20/2020 - 11:56

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Copyrights: GoSports Foundation

Anandan Gunasekaran: India’s army man turned blade runner

The #ChangetheScript series, a collaboration between The Bastion and GoSports Foundation, tells untold stories of change of Indian sportspersons. These foundational and athlete-centric stories intend to change the general perception around professional sport in India and reinstate that sport belongs to every single one of us. Few are more fitting for this purpose than the story of Anandan Gunasekaran, who continues to sprint even after a mine blast took away his leg.

[This article was originally published on The Bastion. Read it here.]

Subedar Anandan Gunasekaran is not a well-known name amongst Indian sports fans. 12 years after surviving a mine blast where he lost his left leg, and despite being on the wrong side of 30, the 400M Asian record holder is now on a quest for the ultimate prize of winning a medal for India at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. In these difficult times, his journey is a constant reminder to all of us that nothing is impossible.

Anandan is well-acquainted with adversity. Hailing from the temple town of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, he was born into a poor household. With a father who did many odd jobs to provide for his mother, sister and himself, Anandan took up the responsibility of contributing to his family’s income by the time he was nine years old.

Every day, little Anandan would wake up at 3:30 AM and deliver newspapers via a 15KM route on his cycle. Looking back now, Anandan believes this routine instilled great character and discipline in him — traits that have helped him immensely through his army life and sporting career. He says, "Cycling every day to complete my paper route played a big role in developing the muscles in my lower body early on."

Despite his tough upbringing, like most children, little Anandan loved the outdoors and playing sports with his peers. He was a gifted athlete and quickly found his footing with athletics. He started competing at state-school events and was dominating the circuit in multiple track and field disciplines very soon. In high school, Gunasekaran became a regular on the national circuit as well, representing the state of Tamil Nadu in sub-junior and junior categories.

A step that changed his life forever

Fuelled by his desire to serve the country and the need to fulfil certain financial obligations, Anandan decided to apply to the Indian Army after graduating from school. In 2005, he joined the Madras Engineering Group (MEG) as a Sepoy, which is an entry-level rank for non-commissioned officers. Soon, he became a part of the Army Athletics Team. One thing led to another, and after three years of competing, Gunasekaran decided to volunteer for active duty, which is a decision that would change his life forever. 

On the 4th of June 2008, Subedar Gunasekaran was posted in the Nowgam Sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district, as part of a patrolling party that was returning after conducting checks at the Line of Control. “I remember it being a very snowy day. We were just trying our best to complete the routine check and return to base as soon as possible. Visibility was really low, and I stepped on a mine under the snow. I distinctly remember the loud sound of the blast… my ears were ringing, and I was completely covered in snow. It was my army brothers who dug me out and carried me back to base”, says Anandan as he recalls that day.

Anandan survived the blast, but his left leg had to be amputated. He was later transferred to the Artificial Limb Centre at the Army Hospital in Pune, where he began his rehabilitation. Losing a leg would end the sports career for most, but just during his rehab, Anandan found inspiration in the story of the famous blade runner, Oscar Pistorius. 

“I read his story while scrolling through a sports magazine, and I couldn’t sleep that day. In a time of fear and uncertainty, I had found belief and goals to look forward to,” says Anandan.

Just six months after having his leg blown off by a mine, Anandan was running again; only this time, it was with a wooden leg that had been issued to him. In fact, Anandan holds a remarkable feat of running 2.5km in 9 minutes and 58 seconds using that wooden leg at the Mumbai Marathon. For perspective, this is the standard fitness test for able-bodied induction in the army.

A little help took him a long way

Pursuing para-sports is an expensive affair. Equipment alone demands a significant amount of investment. In Anandan’s case, running with an amputated leg required a specially designed prosthetic blade that costs ₹5 to ₹6 lakhs. Initially, without the requisite support, he began competing at events with the help 6kg wooden leg that would often chafe his skin after 3-4 days of use. He would then take some time to recuperate for a few days and go back at it. After seeing his relentless competitive drive, members of his contingent at MEG bought his first blade in 2014, and in the same year, he won the 200m Gold Medal at the Paralympic Grand Prix in Tunisia.

In 2017, he was selected by GoSports Foundation to be a part of their Para Champions Programme, instituted to bring structure and planning to the Indian Paralympic movement. The programme currently supports 46 of India’s emerging and elite differently-abled athletes and is funded by IndusInd Bank and Sony Pictures Network India, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Through the programme, Anandan has received support in terms of financial stipends, equipment (including two prosthetic blades), training gear, competition expenses, nutrition, physiotherapy, sports science sessions, etc.

“Our focus has always been towards the holistic development of the athletes and building a support structure that allows them to excel at the highest level. We want their stories to change the narratives around differently-abled athletes, and give them a platform to ultimately be role models for their community” says Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director at GoSports Foundation in Bengaluru.

Ever since his first victory, Anandan has gone on to win multiple medals in the same edition at the 2018 Asian Games (400M – Silver Medal and 200M – Bronze Medal)  and 2019 World Military Games (Gold Medal – 100M, 200M, and 400M), feats which seemed impossible to him even when he was competing as an able-bodied athlete.

Anandan now has his eyes now firmly set on qualifying for Tokyo and putting on a show at the biggest stage. Being 33 years old, this will most likely be the last shot at the Paralympic medal.

Despite winning multiple medals for his country, the stereotypes associated with being differently-abled impacted Anandan’s personal journey as well. When he wanted to marry the love of his life, he was met with rejection from her family, who did not take kindly to his injury. Consequently, they had to elope and get married without the consent of the family. This initially bothered Anandan, but they slowly came to accept him as they watched him excel with para-athletics and become the Army’s first and India’s fastest blade-runner. Today, he says they are proud of their son-in-law’s achievements.

Colonel Rakesh Yadav, the Commandant at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, where Anandan is currently training, says Subedar Anandan Gunasekaran epitomizes the spirit of an Indian Army man. “It is heartening to see one of our war veterans excelling on the international stage, and we hope that he continues to do many more great things going forward”, he says.

The Army has taken good care of their war veteran and has been supportive of his para-athletic journey. After his achievements at the 2015 World Military Games, Anandan was promoted to a Junior Commissioned officer in the Indian Army and holds the rank of Naib Subedar. “Our attempt will be to provide the best pathway that enables elite athletes like him to reach their best potential and ultimately help put India on the world sporting map”, adds Colonel Yadav.

Anandan believes that nothing good comes from dwelling on why he suffered an accident. Instead, he is grateful to be in a position to give back to his community and play his part in changing societal notions.

“Although I am in my room most of the day due to the restrictions, I am focusing on the things that I can control. I am taking care of my body, following my nutrition plan, and continuing to train as per my regime”, says Anandan over a phone call.    

After retiring, Anandan plans to open an academy for differently-abled athletes and pass on his learnings to the next generation. He believes that most able-bodied coaches are unable to cater to the needs of these athletes and that his experiences will be valuable in helping others like himself excel at the highest level.

Anandan’s ability to convert adversity into opportunity and success is a story of resilience. The hope is that it will inspire many more different-abled athletes to pursue their dreams, and use the power of sport to help change the attitude towards disability and Para-Sport.

Debi is a graduate of National Law University, Jodhpur, and works as the Executive Assistant at GoSports Foundation. Being a sports enthusiast and a former state-level basketball player, he is passionate about helping Indian athletes in their quest for sports excellence through his work at GoSports Foundation.

Established in 2008, GoSports Foundation is a national non-profit organization working towards the development of some of India’s most talented emerging and elite athletes who compete in Olympic and Paralympic disciplines. Anyone can play their part by contributing towards the journey of many athletes like Anandan by visiting https://www.gosportsfoundation.in/get-involved

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Debi Dash

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11/20/2020 - 11:46

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Copyrights: Invictus Viseu

Sports ethics as a catalyst for inclusion in adapted sports

Sport, due to the inherent values that constitute it, is a unique example to the realization of inclusion and a link to the empowerment of people with disabilities. Tadeu Celestino explores the ethical and moral aspect of inclusive sports

Inclusion must be understood as a human right, where its norming and binding are subliminally explained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It advocates the need for everyone to assume and perpetuate the commitment to eliminate the barriers and constraints underlying exclusion in its different forms and manifestations, as well as conveying the right to everyone's participation without exception in society.

Therefore, inclusion is the intentional and unconditional acceptance of the other in his difference and individuality and, simultaneously, feeding a feeling of belonging.

Realizing this perspective, sport, due to the inherent values that constitute it, is a unique example to the realization of inclusion and a link to the empowerment of people with disabilities.

Thus, emerging from a humanist perspective, sport, in its different forms of realization, is configured as a school of values, where the basic principles of human virtue are promoted. Sport itself encourages practitioners and athletes to adopt conducts of tolerance, inclusion, equity, respect, overcoming and honesty in the pursuit of the supreme value of good.

This way, it is up to each one of us, as socializing agents and mentors of others, to assume the promotion and orientation of these values and principles of sports ethics, always aiming to strengthen the inclusion in and through sport of people with disabilities.

State of art

Emerged from a purely rehabilitative purpose, adapted sport gradually evolved into the performance expense paradigm, most visible and effective in the Paralympic Games. Such fact has been one of the few ways in which many people with disabilities can, effectively, affirm their potential and obtain some social recognition and appreciation.

Nevertheless, the axiological deregulation of the current social paradigm has also been manifested in adapted sports. Ethical dilemmas are reflected in acts such as doping practices and the fraudulent processes of eligibility and sports classification. This, in turn, negatively reverberates doubly exclusion: sport exclusion, and consequently, social exclusion.

Therefore, the particularities of adapted sport and the specificity of its practitioners requires, today, and more than ever, of its different agents the need for a strong link to ethical and moral values in adapted sports practices.

New perspectives/guidelines

Reinforcing this perspective, it seems to us that the potential for human formation in sport is only effective if the guidelines for sports training include concrete procedures for an intentional and effective practice of sports morals and ethics over the time of training and education of its agents (athletes, coaches, managers, families).

That way we list two dimensions that we consider to be relevant for the realization of this purpose, aimed at the inclusion and social emancipation of practitioners with disabilities:

1) Ethical sports training - It is important to emphasize that acting ethically in sport, regardless of its context of performance, in a consistent and perpetual manner over time precedes the need for robust and continuous training and education for ethical values and principles of knowing how to be and be in sport and in life.

Thus, when developing activities and training, it should be based on multidimensional perspectives on the development of disabled athletes with an emphasis on their bio-psycho-socio-axiological development.

Further, it is important to be aware that sports training is more than the teaching and training of motor skills, it is, intentionally, including in its structuring the basic principles of ethics and morals in sport and in life.

2) Coach/Teacher with an ethical framework - The coach or teacher of adapted sports, when conducting the training and teaching processes, must express a unique attitude of integrity and commitment to the development of the values of ethics and sports morals.

It is up to them, as the main agent of conducting the training/teaching process, to assume the commitment of multidimensional training of these practitioners with disabilities. It is their double responsibility of transmitting knowledge, techniques and tactics, but also, values, ethics and sporting morals that want to be manifested in and with sports practice and, consequently, in the lives of practitioners.

In this way, the coach/teacher in the advance planning of their training/activity must contemplate all the training factors (physical, technical, tactical, psychological and social) as criteria of success of the applied tasks and must cover, intentionally and directly, the multidimensionality of the disabled practitioner's action.

The potential to be ethical and virtuous, in life and sport, is in each one of us (coaches, athletes, parents), in our behaviors, in our attitudes and in the transformation of our character in favor of the other, aiming at a common good.

Tadeus Celestino is a PhD scholar who works with Invictus Viseu and the Grouping of Nelas Schools. 

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

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11/20/2020 - 11:24

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Copyrights: Special Olympics Australia

New Special Olympics Australia programs bring physical literacy to life

An Australian national sporting organisation for people with disability is taking the lead on a holistic approach to building the skills, knowledge, and behaviours that children need to lead healthy, happy, and active lives.

Special Olympics Australia is pioneering ground-breaking programs aimed at getting more Australian children active more often.

Today’s environment and increasingly sedentary lifestyles mean many children are missing out on learning fundamental movement skills, such as how to run, throw, kick, catch and jump. This prompted Sport Australia, the Federal Government agency responsible for supporting and investing in sport, to develop the Australian Physical Literacy Framework, which it launched last year.

Physical literacy means developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that give people the confidence and motivation to lead active lives. Now, Special Olympics Australia is putting the Australian Physical Literacy Framework into practice within programs to develop children’s physical literacy.

These include its Young Athletes and Inclusive Sport in Schools programs. Young Athletes is an all-abilities program in which specially trained coaches guide children under eight through play-based sessions that teach movements they will use in sports and daily life.

Young children also develop the social competencies they need to be active with others, such as asking for help or taking turns.

Special Olympics Australia’s Inclusive Sports in Schools program supports teachers and community coaches to effectively include students of all abilities in physical education within schools.

Pierre Comis, the organisation’s Head of Schools and Participation, says while other programs train coaches to help children develop physical skills, physical literacy-based programs are uniquely focused on participants’ holistic progression.

“A targeted, methodological approach underpinned by the Australian Physical Literacy Framework develops children’s knowledge, positive attitudes and behaviours related to being active – focusing on acquiring physical skills alone does not.”

“Evidence is coming thick and fast to show that a physically literate person is more active, so a deliberate approach to increase children’s physical literacy is key to improving Australians’ physical activity participation over the long term.”

Inclusive Sport in Schools is currently being piloted across New South Wales through Federal Government funding, with national rollout planned.

Murray Elbourn, CEO of Disability Sports Australia, says having a standardised, national school sport program in which students with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities can participate will lead to more effective inclusion of people with disability in sport.

Both the Young Athletes and Inclusive Sport in Schools programs are designed so that children with and without disability can participate together.

Comis views integrated programs that can be adapted to participants’ needs and abilities as the future of inclusive sport.

“The future of inclusion shouldn’t be something we have to do or remember, the box that we have to tick, it should just be seamless.”

Reaching that point will take work, Elbourn says. “Disability sport has an opportunity – through events such as Paralympics, Invictus Games and Special Olympics World Games – to achieve the coverage and recognition that women’s sport has reached in the past decade and create awareness and education.

“That’s where the schools program works well – more people playing together, not segregated, will support talent identification, high-performance pathway growth, and production of Australian athletes who get the opportunity to showcase their talents.

“But governments, community and sports organisations need to collaborate to make it happen.”

Nine national sporting organisations for people with disability including Special Olympics Australia and Disability Sports Australia are already working collectively to advance inclusive sport, through the Australian Sporting Alliance for People with a Disability.

Formed in October this year, the alliance organisations represent millions of Australians.

Elbourn says it is the perfect time for the new alliance to advance one school program that works for everybody.

Andrea Phillips works at Special Olympics Australia, assisting the organisation to share its stories.

Special Olympics Australia strives to ensure that everyone living with an intellectual disability can participate in sport. We provide:

  • Weekly grassroots sporting, recreational, social and health activities in local communities around Australia.
  • An environment where people with an intellectual disability can develop physical fitness, build self-esteem, demonstrate courage, and make friends.
  • Competition pathways ranging from weekly club events, to regional, state, and national games, culminating in the Special Olympics World Games.

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Andrea Phillips

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11/20/2020 - 11:16

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Copyrights: Youth Sport Trust

Thousands of children given opportunity to try para-sports through major inclusive sport programme

Thousands of children with and without special educational needs (SEND) in the UK have been supported to experience PE and school sport thanks to a consortium of organisations led by the Youth Sport Trust and the Department for Education (DfE).

In the last six months particularly, as a result of the pandemic, demand for support from schools to ensure they can access and deliver inclusive PE, sport and physical activity for their pupils with SEND has soared. A successful programme, funded by the DfE, has supported schools every step of the way to reach children with SEND by adapting its delivery, and giving teachers increased confidence in teaching meaningful and inclusive sport and PE, in line with the government’s School Sport and Activity Action Plan. 

With a fresh focus on supporting children self-isolating at home and those within a bubble at school, Inclusion 2020 gives children with and without SEND the opportunity to experience a variety of para-sports like New Age Kurling and seated volleyball, the chance to compete, and comprehensive training for teachers. 

Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb said “Physical education is a key element of every child’s education, which is why schools should be inclusive environments where all children, including those with special education needs and disabilities, benefit from being physically active. 

“PE helps children build friendships, bolsters their development and supports resilience. The Inclusion 2020 programs will give many more children the opportunity to participate in para-sports and help develop important skills for life.” 

 The programme sees a network of lead inclusion schools, each recognised as inclusion champions and visionaries for what high quality, meaningful and inclusive PE and school sport should look like for every child, working directly with young people, parents and other schools to increase opportunities for young people with SEND to enjoy physical education, school sport and physical activity and learn life skills. 

Inclusion 2020 has already supported 10,317 young people (65% with SEND) to try para-sports inspired by the Paralympic Games and upskilled more than 10,000 teachers and coaches in inclusive practice from 5,042 schools in England since it started in 2017. 

Over the next six months, the programme will see: 

  • 20 virtual learning and discovery festivals to enthuse children and staff about para-sports and provide opportunities to take part.
  • The development of a youth voice toolkit which builds on the training young people receive to advocate inclusive sport in their schools.

Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive Ali Oliver said: “Taking part in fun and inclusive sport and play unlocks so many life benefits. It improves wellbeing, increases confidence and a sense of belonging. It can help forge friendships and foster inclusive and respectful environments within schools.  

“We know through research that children are most influenced by their peers and so a key part of Inclusion 2020 with this renewed funding has been making sure we are empowering and training thousands of young people to support their peers.”

Teejai’s story

Teejai Campion is among the 2,531 young people across the country to be empowered to deliver inclusive sport to his peers and learn new skills through sport. Teejai has severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which affects his ability to concentrate, organise his thoughts and remain still. The severity of his ADHD impacts his ability to learn, which has caused significant learning difficulties.

By learning leadership and communication skills through sport, Teejai has recently secured a job with the Northampton Saints Rugby Club. He says this wouldn’t have been possible if he wasn’t supported through Inclusion 2020.

He said: "Taking part in the sports leadership course was worth all the time and effort because even if it takes you a long time it helps you to learn so many new skills that don’t just help you in sport but in all of your life.

"My first year of the course was incredible I built so much confidence and discovered how to create, plan and teach a PE lesson. My favourite part of the course was teaching and showing the younger students and primary students how to play Boccia and Basketball. The most challenging part of this course actually was helping the students, as it can sometimes be stressful, but it was worth it in the end as I have gained communication, teamwork and organisation skills that I did not have before the course.”

This model is being mimicked across the country with the 50 lead inclusion schools acting as champions in their local areas. 

The consortium of organisations includes Activity Alliance, the British Paralympic Association, Nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs), Youth Sport Trust and Swim England. Parents and young people are also part of the consortium group. 

For more information on Inclusion 2020 and to read the programme’s insight report please visit www.youthsporttrust.org/inclusion-2020 

 

The Youth Sport Trust is a children’s charity working to ensure every child enjoys the life-changing benefits that come from play and sport. It has more than 20 years expertise in pioneering new ways of using sport to improve children’s wellbeing and give them a brighter future. The charity works with more than 20,000 schools across the UK and operates on a local, national and global level. It harnesses the power of sport, physical activity and PE to build life skills, connections between people and support networks which increase life chances through greater attainment, improved wellbeing and healthier lifestyles. www.youthsporttrust.org  

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Isabel Dunmore

Published

11/20/2020 - 11:07

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Copyrights: Ivan Anastasovski

Sports Bon Ton: An inclusive sport program in Macedonia

Sports Bon Ton is an inclusive sport program in Macedonia which aims to apply traditional games and sports as a tool to encourage social inclusion in people with disabilities of all ages and to encourage people with disabilities to join a sports discipline or use physical activity for better health.

People with disabilities have all human rights to be equal members of society guaranteed by the Convention. This includes their independence, support for creating a quality life and the engagement and level of awareness of the community to which they belong. Sports and physical activity contribute to a better life for people with disabilities, and help make their lives more interesting, relieve tension, and contribute to building and maintaining relationships with family and friends.

The 2010 White Paper on Sports of the European Commission indicates that the sport and physical activity needs of people with disabilities remain inaccessible to them. People with disabilities are not able to enjoy the same opportunities to be part of a sports and education system. Hence, we, as an organization, started a project named “Sports Bon Ton” for the social inclusion of persons with disabilities through traditional sports games.

Sports Bon Ton is based on the moral norms in sport, and promotes participants to have positive attitudes, both towards their opponents and towards themselves. The aim of the project is to apply traditional games and sports as a tool to encourage social inclusion in people with disabilities of all ages and to encourage people with disabilities to join a sports discipline or use physical activity for better health.

The first part of this project includes an adaptive sports and physical education program for people with disabilities, including kindergarteners, primary and secondary schoolchildren, those in disability day care centres. Several sports, like volleyball, football, swimming and bowling, and traditional games, like pooling on rope and mosque, are used in this program.  

For the second part of this project, we run a volunteer program for students of sport science who wish to work with peoples with disabilities. Through the volunteer program, we develop social values like  the socializing process, care and assistance, and providing an opportunity for every individual to be responsible in society.

The last part of the project includes an individualized adapted physical education program for people with different types of disabilities. This allows every individual to experience the direct benefit of sports and physical activity. Further, it contributes to a better sense of belonging to each sport. This part of the project gives each participant the space to develop their abilities according to their personal and physical goals and possibilities. It allows them to develop their motor skills, according to their specific needs, and to acquire new and useful skills in the field of sports.

This inclusive model of sports education ensures that each participants is happy, safe and secure. The project allows each individual with specific needs to be independent and included in the sports system. It also shows others that there are many possibilities and opportunities available for people with disabilities.  

Through sport, participants overcome their fears, fight against the prejudices, and break down barriers. By interacting with differently abled people, others are able to change their attitudes. This social model of sports emphasizes the creation of conditions in a society where people with disabilities are socialized instead of isolating them and creating structures that work for all.

The wonderful thing about Sports Bon Ton is that one does not have to be ashamed of their diversity – people with disabilities come together and have lots of fun socializing, and become motivated to develop, grow, become healthier, and achieve more in sports. Though the process of socialization is long, by using sport for people with disabilities, we will succeed to make society good for each individual.

Dr. Ivan Anastasovski is a full-time professor at the Faculty of Phsyical Education, Sport and Health at Saints Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia. He is also the president of the Association for Development Initiatives and Sports Geostrategic Institute GLOBAL. 

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

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Ivan Anastasovski

Published

11/20/2020 - 10:57

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