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.



Co-ordinating Staff Members:

Prof H. Van Coppenolle 
University Leuven 
Faculteit Bewegings- en Revalidatiewetenschappen 
Tervuursevest 101
3001 Heverlee Leuven 
Tel: +32 16 329126
Prof J.C. De Potter 
Université Libre de Bruxelles 
Institut Supérieur d'Education Physique et Kinésitherapie 
Avenue P. Heger 28 
1000 Bruxelles 
Tel: +32 2 650 22 10 Fax: +32 2 650 21 84
Stefka Djobova 
University Leuven 
Departement Revalidatiewetenschappen 
Tervuursevest 101 
3001 Heverlee Leuven 
Tel: +32 16 329126
Iana Dobreva 
University Leuven 
Departement Revalidatiewetenschappen 
Tervuursevest 101 
3001 Heverlee Leuven 
Tel: +32 16 329126
Leen Verbeek 
University Leuven 
Departement Revalidatiewetenschappen 
Tervuursevest 101 
3001 Heverlee Leuven 
Tel: +32 16 329126

Participating Countries:

1. Austria

University of Vienna
Dinold Maria
Institut für Sportwissenschaft
Auf der Schmelz 6A
1150 Wien
Tel : +43 198 22 66 12 59 Fax : +43 198 22 66 12 08

Austrian Sports Federation for the Disabled (ÖBSV)
c/o Mag. Bettina Mössenböck
Brigittenauer Lände 42
A-1200 Wien/Vienna
Fax: +43-1-3320397

11. Italy

Università di Torino, SUISM 
Bianco Anna
Piazza Bernini 12 
10143 Torino
Tel : +39 011 74 11 701 
Fax : +39 011 74 11 798

2. Belgium

European Institute of Higher Education Brussels
Karin Bultiauw
EHSAL campus Parnas
Stationsstraat 301
1700 Dilbeek
Tel.: 00 32 2466 51 51 
Fax:  00 32 2466 24 75

12. Latvia

Latvian Disabled Children's and Youth Sports Federation
Klavina Aija
Lacplesa Str 5 
3002 Jelgava
Tel : +371 30 80 781   
Fax : +371 30 80 781

3. Czec Republic

Palacky University 
Hana Valkova
Dean of the Faculty of Physical Culture 
Tr. Miru 115 
771 11 Olomouc 
Tel.: +420 585 636 001

Palacky University 
Iva Tezzelova
Faculty of Physical Culture 
Department of Adapted Physical Activity 
tr. Miru 115 
771 11 Olomouc 
Tel.: +420 585 636 322; Fax: +420 585 422 532


13. Lithuania

Lithuanian Institute of Physical Education 
Adomaitiene Ruta
Department of Adapted Physical Activity
Sporto 6 
3000 Kaunas
Tel : +370 7 33 12 40 
Fax :+370 7 33 12 40

4. Denmark


14. Norway

Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education
Kahrs Nina
Institute of Social Science
P.O. Box 4014 Ulleval Stadion
0806 Oslo
Tel : +47 22 18 56 00 
Fax : +47 22 18 57 18

5. Finland

National Sports Council 
Vilhu Jyrki
15560 Nastola
Tel : +358 3 88 55 337 

15. Poland

Academy of Physical Education
Grossman Jerzy
Marymoncka 34 
00968 Warsaw
Tel : +4822 83 13 211 
Fax : +4822 6357991

Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw
Natalia Morgulec
Department of Sport for Persons with Disabilities 
Marymoncka 34
00-968 Warsaw
Tel/fax: +48 22 8354798

6. France

Claire Boursier
University of Paris X
200 avenue de la République
Tel : +33 1 40 97 41 75
Fax: +33 1 40 97 41 50


16. Portugal

Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa 
Rodrigues David
Faculdade de Motricidade Humana
Estrada da Costa
1499 Lisboa
Tel : +35 11 419 67 77 
Tel : +35 11 415 12 48

7. Germany

Free University of Berlin Institüt für Sportwissenschaft 
Doll-Tepper Gudrun
Fabeckstr. 69
14195 Berlin
Tel : +49 30 838 531 83 
Fax : +49 30 838 558 37

17. Slovakia

Comenius University
Jela Labudova
Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Comenius
814 69 Bratislava, Nabr. Arm.gen.L. Svobodu 9,
Phone/fax:+421 2 5441 3681

8. Greece

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Evanggelinou Christina
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
Ag Ioannis
62100 Serres
Tel : +30 31 99 10 42 
Fax : +30 31 99 10 42

18. Spain

University of Lleida 
Ruiz Pedro
Institut Nacional d' Educacio Fisica de Catalunya
Partida la Caparrella s/n 
25192 Lleida
Tel : +34 73 27 20 22 Fax : +34 73 27 49 52


9. Hungary

Semmelweis University Budapest
Judit Farkas
Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (TF)
H-1123 Budapest 
Alkotas utca 44.
Phone:+36 1 487-9201 
Fax: +36 1 356-6337

Semmelweis University
Szilvia Gita
Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
H-1123, Budapest
Alkotás utca 44.
Phone: +36 1 487-9246
Fax: +36 1 214-5684

19. Sweden

Halmstad University
Kristen Lars
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Box 823
30118 Halmstad 
Tel : +46 35 16 72 15 
Fax : +46 35 16 72 64

10. Ireland

University of Limerick 
Leahy Teresa
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
Limerick Ireland
Tel : +353 61 20 28 07 
Fax : +353 61 33 14 90

20. The Netherlands

University Windesheim
L.W. Sietsma
manager APA and PMT 
Postbox 10090
8000 GB Zwolle
Tel: +31 38 469 9351