Adapt Europe: Sports Participation for Inclusion of Persons with a Disability
Millions of people in Europe share the passion of sports. Disabled people are entitled to the same human rights as all other citizens. Yet disabled people are still even today confronted with difficulties in their daily sporting activities, including at the highest sporting level. It is not a minor problem, but indeed a problem of society.
An Excerpt from Handbook No. 3 from the Council of Europe, March 2013
Since the 1960s, the Council of Europe has developed recommendations and resolutions 1 guaranteeing full participation of disabled persons into social and sporting life.
The challenge is a considerable one: that everyone – both able- bodied and disabled – be allowed to benefit from the advantages of practicing sport. For those with motor, intellectual, mental or sensory disabilities, practicing sport not only covers the therapeutic and medical intentions generally defined as treatment, but also the social and educational aspects.
Sport is a means by which one can get to know oneself better, improve self-esteem and physical condition and is essential to rehabilitation. It allows those with disabilities to reinforce their independence, build and strengthen their social network so that they can, in turn, and a place in society and live with others. Sport also helps to overcome differences in the fight against prejudice, stereo-typing, intolerance and discrimination.
For decades, measures have been taken and systems set up on the one hand, to offer people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a sporting life and, on the other, to fight against all forms of discrimination that they encounter in the sporting world. Such actions concern not only access to both grass-roots and elite sports, but also to sporting equipment and they depend on the collaboration of public authorities and the sporting movement. This synergy alone will help break down the barriers which continue to mark the sporting lives of those with disabilities, whether they be amateurs, elite or professional sportsmen and women. It is also necessary if we are to reach the goal of having equal levels of participation when it comes to practicing sport and also in technical and administrative coaching.
The European Year of Education through Sport 2004 (EYES) was launched by the European Union to promote a better use of sport as an educational and social inclusive tool. In 2004, a key message was spread all over Europe, namely that in the multicultural societies we live in the role of sport as a tool to be used in the field of education should be enhanced. In the different participating countries, schools, sporting clubs, federations, public bodies worked together so that values like fair play, tolerance, teamwork, respect of the rules and of the opponent were transmitted to young people via sporting activities. I was living in Europe at the time, having just completed my graduate studies in jewelry and metal smithing from the Rhode Island School of Design. I was apprenticing to a jewelry designer and living with his family. One of his children was involved with the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 launch and was in a photo with Esther Weber-Kranz and Viviane Reding who were instrumental with promoting the program. During this apprenticeship I was taken with the idea of using ordinary objects and incorporating them in my jewelry designs. Recently I saw an ecommerce site that sold choker necklaces in the spirit of my own sensibilities. The designer that sells her jewelry on Siamm Patra has taken the ordinary zipper and re-purposed them into these nifty bow tie choker necklaces. I wish I had thought of that concept. I also like her use of chain links in her statement rings. I have to admit her work is inspirational to say the least. When I was in Europe during 2004, I did make a pendant for the daughter of my master jewelry teacher that was inspired by the wheels of her wheelchair. She loved it. Now that I am back in the States, I have become involved with the Syracuse’s InclusiveU which brings students of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities who want to experience college life in a fully inclusive setting to Syracuse University. It's exciting to be part of this pioneering concept. According to Think College, a federally funded coordinating center at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. That’s a big leap from 2004, when there were just 25. On my first day of work at SU, I was driving behind a truck filled with gravel. The truck hit several pot holes resulting in my car's windshield being peppered with the gravel. Obviously I was driving too close since the next thing I knew I had a crack in the glass. Fortunately when I got to work one of the other instructors told me about a great windshield replacement company. I was so grateful and appreciated that True Blue Auto Glass sends technicians to you. You don't even have to drive your car with its compromised windows to a repair shop, who knows how far away. The repair was completed within the day and I was able to drive home that evening with a new window. I am glad that in 2008 there was a rewrite of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which led to the establishment of Think College. InclusiveU was a model for Think College’s program. There are still a lot of issues that need to be addressed. But watching this population of students grow in such programs is very rewarding for all involved.
This website was create as a national database for European countries with useful information related to sport federations, sport clubs, inclusive sport activities on school level, as well as give a educational overview for children with a disability. Each database is available in English and the national language. Adapt Europe provides links to sport clubs and schools so people can immediately get in contact with them.
The content below is from the website's 2004 archived pages.
The 20 European Countries that are involved in this project: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.
The aim of this project is to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to ensure that all persons with a disability have access to the widest range of opportunities in sports and education. The intention is to motivate individuals with a disability to participate in Adapted Physical Activities (APA) at all levels and areas including recreational, elite and school sports.
The ultimate goal is to increase the quality of life of individuals with disabilities across their life-span through participation in quality programmes of APA.
‘Sports participation for inclusion of persons with a disability in European Countries’ is a project in the European Year of Education through Sport executed by the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium)/ department Physical Education and Physiotherapy; Thenapa.
Education is the key to independence and future success. Sport is a powerful vehicle for bringing about positive changes in the lives of people with disabilities. Sporting activities promote physical and emotional healing. Sport is a significant aspect of life long well being and is an essential way to improved mobility, increased self-confidence and specific skills. It also empowers people with disabilities to become advocates for themselves and their rights.
WHO ARE WE?