Social inclusion through Special Olympics Unified Sports Recreation
- Special Olympics
- Country of Implementation
- First published
“You can improve a child’s skills, but a child can’t improve in life without an environment that supports their development as valued and respected human beings.” Saban Parladar, Special Olympics coach, Kaysari, Turkey
In many countries people with intellectual disabilities have few opportunities to participate in physical activities, sports, and play, and almost never with peers without disabilities. If they do have such access, it usually takes place in segregated settings, at separate times or in separate groups. Furthermore, educators, community service providers, and authorities lack knowledge and resources to foster an inclusive environment.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Through the Special Olympics Unified Sports Recreation model, children are able to participate in an inclusive sports setting based on football. Fifty coaches from special schools and mainstream sports clubs have introduced the model in an inclusive setting, and they have clearly indicated that all children are able to build sports and fitness skills through regular trainings and competitions. The quality of the training is enhanced by conducting activities in professional sports facilities and using club trainers. The Turkish Football Association and the six professional clubs have deepened their understanding of how professional sports can contribute to developing opportunities for children, particularly those with intellectual disabilities.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The project model has universal appeal because it can be easily replicated in schools, sports clubs, or community centre settings. Unified Recreation can be readily implemented within educational systems that are segregated or inclusive simply by recruiting participants both with and without intellectual disabilities (e.g., students, family members, employees, etc.).