These initiatives highlight the focus of research and development in disability sport and adapted physical activity.
Promoting and raising awareness of disability sport is a crucial step in changing attitudes and building community support. Many local projects include an element of community education and this is also important at the international level. Disability sport has become well-known in many parts of the world and this is partly due to the media exposure of high-profile events such as the Paralympic and Special Olympics World Games.
There are some very good resource materials that can be utilised to educate communities and raise awareness of the benefits of sport for people with a disability. The International Paralympic Committee has developed a Paralympic School Day educational programme which is a set of activities that educate youth about Paralympic sport, individual differences and disability issues. The Special Olympics have developed a University Curriculum which is a comprehensive package that covers on all aspects of Special Olympics programmes and opportunities.
The Inclusion Club aims to increase opportunities for people with disability to participate in sport and physical activity. It provides resources and an online space for an international community to share good practice and raise awareness of people with disability participating in sport and physical activity.
There is a range of resources available including case studies, education and advocacy material, videos, discussion forums and a regular podcast. Find out more.
Participation opportunities and talent identification
There are many young people in developing countries that may have what it takes to be an elite athlete with a disability. Opportunities for participation at all levels are important for sport development.
A new initiative of the Special Olympics uses the global reach of football to generate greater public awareness, acceptance and respect for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Global Football (SOGF) is aiming to raise the necessary funds to significantly expand Special Olympics football participation on every continent providing new opportunities for participation.
Creating pathways for people with a disability to progress in sport is an important area of development. Not only do people need introductory experiences to sport but opportunities for training and competition can also provide avenues for further skill development. Some interesting examples of talent identification and recruitment programmes are being established such as the Australian Paralympic Committee’s Talent Identification project and Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development model.
Emergency relief, disasters and disability
Following a natural or man-made disaster, people with a disability are one of the most vulnerable groups in a community. Sport with a focus on cooperative, team-building activities can promote psychosocial rehabilitation in people affected by disaster.
Organisations such as Handicap International and the Landmine Survivors Network have used sport and play programmes for many years in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of individuals and communities all over the world. More recently, Special Olympics and the member nations of the International Paralympic Committee have become more involved in using sport to help people with a disability following a disaster.
Image by Danny Nee