Sports Bon Ton: An inclusive sport program in Macedonia
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.]