Sports for all ages: Practical examples of inclusion
Sports for all ages: Practical examples of inclusion
Sport moves and unites people. The health and social benefits of athletic activities apply to both people with and without disabilities and people of all ages. What are some available options and which of them are explicitly geared towards inclusion?
Whether swimming or handball - the right kind of sport and the right offers on site have to be found first of all.
Every Thursday in Dortmund, Germany, children with a variety of different disabilities can try out a different sport each week – whether it’s soccer, handball or gymnastics. In doing so, they get a taste of many different types of sports and are able to ultimately choose the ones they like best and determine whether they can see themselves pursuing these activities on a regular basis.
Advice from the BRSNW KiJu
Tryout days like these are organized by the Youth Sports Division of the Rehabilitation and Sports Association of People with Disabilities in North-Rhine Westphalia (Behinderten- und Rehabilitationssportverband Nordrhein-Westfalen), BRSNW KiJu. Upon request, parents can also obtain additional information from experts on-site or after the event to help determine the types of sports that are best suited for their child. Having said that, aside from tryout days, the BRSNW KiJu team also assists and answers any other questions parents might have – whether it pertains to popular sports options or whether their child requires sports rehabilitation.
Parents are not the only ones who have access to these consulting services. Pediatricians can also get advice on the most suitable type of sport for respective disabilities. In turn, doctors are subsequently able to make great suggestions for their small patients.
If school teachers need inspiration and information on how they can make their physical education lessons more inclusive and how they can obtain available teaching materials, the BRSNW KiJu is also there to answers any questions. If teachers want to become certified to be able to award children with disabilities the German Sports Badge, this is the place to enroll in weekend courses. Sports instructors of organized sports can also continue their education and specialize with accelerated courses such as "Active Children" or "Active Teens" for example.
At the beginning of 2017, the "1st Wheelchair Sports Day for Hamburg Students Grades 5 and over" took place under the auspices of the German Wheelchair Sports Association (Deutscher Rollstuhl-Sportverband), DRS. During this project day, approximately 500 children and adolescents with and without disabilities playfully discovered aspects of inclusion in and through sports. Guests were invited by the Hamburg Wheelchair Alliance, which includes partners from the fields of politics, business, and sports and is under the patronage of Ingrid Körnert, Senate Coordinator for the Equal Treatment of People with Disabilities. The objective of the project day was to offer specific tryout courses for various wheelchair sports. After all, fun is most important when it comes to playful rivalry in athletic competition and potential reservations are overcome almost automatically.
Having fun in sports is also the focus of the JUROBACUP, which was established in 1989 by the DRS – ROLLIKIDS division. This Youth Wheelchair Basketball Tournament is not a sports league event but instead emphasizes participation for everyone. The rules have been simplified and lower netball stands are being used instead of conventional high basketball hoops. What’s more, inclusion also takes center stage during the JUROBACUP: whether it’s siblings or friends – children and adolescents without disabilities can also participate and compete on the field.
In the project "Sport to Engage People with Dementia", special sports and exercise programmes have been created that are close to the lives of people with dementia.
Making sports accessible to everyone
"Joint participation in sporting activities right from the start is a great approach towards an inclusive society," says Torsten Hardtstock in an interview with REHACARE.com. Hardtstock is the project manager of "SPORTundBILDUNGinklusiv – mittendrin statt außen vor! Eine Sport- und Bildungsinitiative zur Inklusion!"(English: Inclusive sports and education- being in the thick of it versus on the outside! A sports and education initiative for inclusion!) and has built a network in the City and district of Rostock over the past three years to promote inclusion through sports.
That being said, if the overall sports landscape in Germany is meant to be more inclusive, it should not only include the young but also the elderly. That’s why Dr. Georg Schick from the BRSNW Disability and Rehabilitation Sports Association has accompanied the "Sport to Engage People with Dementia" project over the past three years. Together with a number of partners, the project promoted tandem arrangements at the community level, which include one athletic partner and one who needs support and care. This gave way to sports programs for people with dementia. "The selection ranges from strength training, balance training, games, dance to walking. As it pertains to sustained participation in group events, enjoyable activities such as joint matches or music activities have proven especially successful," says Dr. Schick in a conversation with REHACARE.com.
Whether it’s elementary students in wheelchairs or seniors with dementia – basically everyone is able to participate in athletic activities. However, this necessitates the creation of inclusive structures to accommodate the very different needs. After all, this is the only way to ensure that all people in our society are able to benefit.