The Jorge Pina Association
The Jorge Pina Association (AJP) is a non-profit association founded in 2011 and registered as a Private Social Solidarity Institution (IPSS) since June 2015. We have developed social patronage activities, in the sporting and cultural sphere, promoting the inclusion of disadvantaged children and young people with special educational needs.
About Jorge Pina
Our association is named after Jorge Pina, who was born in Portimão, Portugal on 11 January 1976. He is the son of Cape Verdian parents, from the island of Fogo, who were ex-emigrants in Angola.
After experimenting with various sports, he discovered that he worked better with his hands, and realized that boxing was his passion and salvation from juvenile delinquency. He passed through several clubs in Lisbon, but it was at Sporting Clube de Portugal that he excelled, becoming a national champion in boxing by winning several titles.
His international career led him to prepare for the World Championship, but he was not able to achieve the title due to the loss of his sight. This adversity forced him to reformulate his life and stop being a boxer. However, his inner strength was not shaken and was reinforced by his resilience.
He started in participating in athletics in 2006, a sport he embraced with passion, and he participated in the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008, in London in 2012 and in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Despite losing 90% of his vision, he insisted on staying connecting to boxing by teaching this sport, and in 2011 he founded the Jorge Pina Association, where he applies his knowledge and enthusiasm for life to young people who want to excel.
He has been ambassador for the National Plan for Ethics in Sport since 2013, and ambassador for the Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Portugal, a relay race and a worldwide humanitarian event that seeks to promote international peace, friendship and understanding, in 2014.
“Before I was blind, now I see. God took me out of one way to put me in a better one.” -Jorge Pina
At AJP, we believe that sport gives visibility to the abilities of individuals and not to their difficulties. Sport develops skills for those who regularly practice, and for the disabled, it allows them greater autonomy, through the development of their physical and cognitive skills. This contributes to their social integration and improves their quality of life.
We have four main activities as part of our project:
- The Adapted Athletics School
- Educational Boxing
- Motivational Lecture (about Jorge Pina’s life story and professional career)
With the development of these activities, we support children and young people from different families and socioeconomic contexts, with or without physical and psychological disabilities, providing them with access to sport. The following are our objectives:
- Sensitize participants and promote equal rights and opportunities for all
- Facilitate the integration of young people in society and encourage the spirit of initiative
- Improve the development of children and young people by encouraging independence and autonomy
- Improve participants’ self-esteem and self-image
- Promote international relationships between young people with and without disabilities
- Develop motor and functional skills in disabled children
- Participate in national and international competitions in different modalities, not only for the competition, but for the experience itself
- Participate and organize events that promote sports
- Promote healthy lifestyle habits
In 2015 we created the Adapted Athletics School project, which aims to give free sports training in the field of athletics to any child or young person with special health needs, with a team of specialized coaches and a series of schools and partner entities.
We believe in the potential of sports, in building personal confidence, determination, autonomy and motivation in children and young people. The sense of responsibility, equity, organization and discipline that comes from sports are excellent weapons for the personal and interpersonal development of young people and children.
Given the talents we discovered, we created a competitive team, and have athletes who have won medals, demonstrating the great sporting potential and capacity for resilience.
In 2017, the Jorge Pina Association was distinguished within the framework of the European Sport Week 2017, by the European Union in Marseille with the Local Hero Award 2017. This was the first time the award, which aims to recognize as individual who works consistently for the promotion of sport and inclusion through physical activity in their community, was granted to a Portuguese.
Social inclusion of people with disabilities
Although there are laws that support people with disabilities, the reality is not the same. People with disabilities remain ostracized in society.
However, we have observed that in a sporting environment, there is greater openness to the acceptance of difference. That is why we believe that sport activities can be the vehicle for change, because it enables us all to grow and open our minds in the face of adversities and limitations. Indeed, often what limits us are our thoughts and not any disability.
And this is the work we do at AJP, working in networks with schools, institutions and other entities, fostering the sharing of experiences and raising awareness of differences and treating everyone equally.
Today, there is great admiration for those who overcome obstacles and inspire others to be changemakers. This has permeated to organizations, which have become more open to including adapted sports in sporting events. However, there is still a long way to go in making sports more inclusive to all, and for inclusive sports to gain greater prominence and importance in our community. This can only happen with persistent efforts over time. And by appreciating the work and effort of disabled athletes, and admitting that their value to society is the same as yours or mine.
Lúcia Pedro is part of the Jorge Pina Association.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]