The 1993 United Nations’ Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Training fear fun prepare children to Woude declares that member states should take measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunities for recreation and sports. 108 of 19th Dec 2001 established an Ad Hoc Committee to consider proposals for this Convention.
Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed in 1989, and ratified in 1992, recognises “the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. Appropriate national structures and programmes have to be developed. In addition to the competitive aspects of sport, the social, personal, fun and health aspects of physical activity should be promoted. Physical activity for everyone requires emphasis on all users having equitable access to community facilities. Community facilities must be sufficiently diverse to attract everyone. Efforts are required to promote widespread interest and participation in physical activity. I would like to acknowledge the leadership of those in Ireland who are committed to increasing the quality and quantity of physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities.
Their proactive attitude enables them to move beyond the obstacles in order to find and implement adequate solutions. The provision of access for people with disabilities to quality physical activity and sporting opportunities must be addressed on an equal basis with those of their non-disabled peers. From the empirical research for this study five main factors emerged as essential if quality experiences in physical exercise and sport are to be had by people with disabilities. While there have been welcome developments in the area of sport and active leisure in Ireland including an increase in funding for sport and active leisure, the importance of leadership to spearhead the construction of appropriate structures and processes cannot be overstated. Participants in this study, including people involved in sports and physical exercise provision, people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, considered the issue of leadership to be a crucial one. In these initiatives, while each group retains its identity, united they have a more powerful voice to lobby for funding and support. While the approaches are diverse in different countries, all involve stronger leadership and improved co-ordination at a national level.
In Wales development of structures has been through local authorities that have taken ownership of ensuring sports equity. How to ensure physical literacy was another key issue flagged by people with disabilities, parents, and teachers and by professionals involved in the provision of physical activity and sports programmes. The education and training of professionals involved is an important related issue. Once people are educated and trained appropriately, inclusive PE is more likely to happen because the professionals will have acquired the skills to organise, modify and adapt curricula appropriately to meet individual need. This might be done through the provision of training for teachers on the guidelines. This could be carried out in a number of ways including e.
Guidelines for teachers of students with physical and sensory disabilities would also be useful. Increasing knowledge about the range of factors that affect people with disabilities participating in physical activity and sport can be used to develop inclusive physical activity and sports programmes. In summary, the importance of sport and physical activity must be underlined by strategic action at national, regional and local level. Social commitment and an appreciation of the benefits to society of diversity is promoted and fuelled by clear national policy and frameworks and co-ordinated strategic planning.
Clear leadership at a national level makes widespread social commitment to equity for everyone more likely. Recommendations include the following:A National Framework for inclusive physical activity and sport should be developed by a multi-agency working group that plan and promote cross-disciplinary planning and collaboration in the field of physical activity and sport. National, regional and local public awareness campaigns around physical activity should reflect the diversity of the population and address the simple and broad opportunities that exist for physical activity. The media should be more inclusive by developing strategies that allot space to a diversity of sports and should portray images of children and adults with a disability in publicity material regarding sport and physical activity. Teacher training on the use of the guidelines should be introduced. Guidelines for teachers of students with physical disabilities would be useful. The potentially important role for Special Needs Assistants in ensuring that children with disabilities experience quality physical education in school and how best to manage the relationship between Special Needs Assistants and teachers are important areas for future research.
Adapted Physical Activity as an academic discipline in Ireland. Disability Awareness Modules should be included in the education and training of those who deliver Irish Sports Council recreation programmes. A nationwide volunteering service for sport and physical activity for people with disabilities should be developed. People with a disability could be recruited for training and employment in the field of leisure and sports. There are people with disabilities who have had little or no experience of physical activity or exercise. They need, first of all, to develop their motor skills through adapted physical activity programmes and through physiotherapy where indicated. Other people with disabilities do not have the opportunity to participate in active leisure pursuits and sports that suit and appeal to them.
Central to conducting research in the field of physical activity and sport is a clarification of important words and terms. The enormous benefits of physical exercise have been recognised but they need to be more widely experienced. The pleasure and enjoyment that comes from physical exercise and sport can be sufficient reasons in themselves for participation. However, taking a more functional view, a whole range of benefits and reasons for participation can be enumerated and these are addressed in the report. Sport instills self discipline, a competitive spirit, and comradeship.
Its value in promoting health, physical strength, endurance, social integration, and psychological wellbeing is of little doubt. It is not difficult to understand why sport is so important for the wellbeing of people with disability. Participation in physical activity has a role to play in personal development. It improves physiological and mental functioning and gives rise to feelings of physical, psychological and social competence. It is hugely enjoyable and can increase a person’s resistance to stress. Through physical exercise and sport people can learn values and habits such as perseverance, constancy and competitiveness, fair play and sportsmanship.
Positive effects of physical activity in persons with learning and physical and sensory disability that have been demonstrated include improvements in general health, physical fitness, bone metabolism and increased functional independence. There is also increased mobility and a reduction in chronic disease and secondary complications. Physical activity is part of the antidote to the global burden of obesity and to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As the economic and social impact of a sedentary lifestyle and obesity becomes more apparent, efforts are being made around the globe to increase participation in physical exercise and sport. Irish documents that highlight the potential role for sport and physical activity in Ireland. From an economic viewpoint the sport and leisure industry is increasing in importance in Ireland. Targeting Sporting Change in Ireland, participation in sport is identified as contributing to the physical and mental wellbeing of the nation.
It is also identified as being capable of playing a significant role in tackling social and economic disadvantage. England, in its Corporate Strategy, emphasised increasing participation in culture, arts and leisure activities and services. The Department states, “increasing access for disabled and socially disadvantaged people are of particular importance to our areas of responsibility”. The report has an executive summary and a number of appendices. The report will be of particular interest to people with disabilities. It will also be of interest to individuals and organisations who are involved in the organisation and provision of sport and physical activity and physical education, training and coaching.