Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Promoting Inclusive Sports in Schools

Basic Initiative for Sport and Inclusion (BISI), an Austrian NGO, started ‘Inklusion Sport’ in 2004 to provide young people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports. BISI works with interested schools to bring together pupils both with and without disabilities for joint trainings and competitions, to organize inclusive sports events, and to conduct teacher training. By creating a regional school sports agenda that includes unified sports matches, schools could gradually begin to arrange these activities for themselves. In 2018, there were over 30 inclusive sport events with more than 2,000 children taking part.

“Inclusive sport means SPORT FOR ALL and WITH ALL, without excluding anyone because of a physical or intellectual disability.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Inklusion Sport
Organisation:Basic Initiative for Sport and Inclusion
of Implementation


  • In 2014 there were 4-5 inclusive sport events in Styria. By 2018 there are more than 30 a year.
  • Inklusion Sport is currently active in Styria, Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Carinthia.
  • In 2016 the programme received the Austrian Inclusive Award from Lebenshilfe Österreich, a national organization supporting people with intellectual disabilities.


Children and young people with disabilities, in particular intellectual disabilities, are often excluded from school sports.


Children playing soccer.

Working in close cooperation with the Special Olympics Austria, Inklusion Sport empowers youth and educators to promote social inclusion. Begun in 2004, they offer unified sport events, education and training in the Austrian state of Styria. Each year five physical education (PE) teachers receive training to become official advisers on inclusive sport. They are employed by schools as PE assistants to give weekly lessons to children.

A four-year study showed that the project improves the health and fitness of school children with intellectual disabilities, builds self-esteem, and promotes social contact. In addition, involvement of students in the planning phase of the competitions supports self-determination. An unexpected consequence of the programme was an increase in the academic performance of intellectually impaired youth, resulting in better grades.

Inklusion Sport has partnered with the Comenius programme (a European Union education project that aims to help young people and educational staff better understand the range of European cultures, languages, and values) to attract inclusive sports teams from Italy, Hungary, and Germany, among others.


Special Olympics for Styria has been the primary funder of Inklusion Sport, providing €5,000 a year, and this support will continue for an undetermined time. A total of €20,000 a year for five years is needed to roll-out the project nationally, and these funds will be sought from school administrations and the Austrian Government. Another €10,000 annually is required for international projects, for which BISI will seek EU funding.

Inklusion Sport has already been replicated in Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Carinthia. Education and teacher training in schools, universities, and colleges are key to the programme’s dissemination. International activities include a partnership with the University of Giessen in Germany and international unified sports events and teacher-training sessions throughout Europe as well as in Ghana and Kazakhstan.

Soccer team photo.


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