International development and persons with a disability
Sport can play a key role in the lives and communities of persons with a disability, the same as their peers without a disability. However, additional benefits include:
1. Socialization through sport is particularly valuable for persons with a disability as they often remain in the home environment, protected and guarded by their families. Participation in sport creates peer interaction, co-operative relationships and teamwork.
2. Sport can also play a significant role in reducing the focus on the impairment or disability of the person and places the focus on their abilities. This leads to empowerment and greater self-confidence that can be applied to other realms of life, for example employment.
3. Disability sport programmes serve to strengthen participants both mentally and physically, promote rehabilitation, and facilitate a capacity for self-help. "While sport has value in everyone's life, it is even more important in the life of a person with a disability. This is because of sport's rehabilitative influence, and the fact that it is a means to integrate the person into society?sport teaches independence".
4. Sport can promote the inclusion of girls and women who experience double stigmatization.
5. By involving participants with and without a disability in the same programmes there is increased understanding and sensitivity about one another and it can assist with preventing social exclusion.
Pieter van der Houwen
As the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport and Development stated, "Sport can integrate persons with a disability into society, providing an arena for positive social interaction, reducing isolation and breaking down prejudice. Sports programmes for the disabled are also a cost-effective method of rehabilitation. They are highly therapeutic, improving motor skills and increasing mobility, self-sufficiency and self-confidence."
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Additional information regarding the benefits of 'sport for all' are clearly outlined in the following:
- Magglingen Declaration (2003) ( pdf)
- Decalogue on Adapted Sport (2003);
- UN World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons (1982);
- UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Persons with Disabilities (1993);
- European Year of Persons with Disabilities (2003);
- European Year of Education Through Sport (2004);
- African Decade of Disabled Persons (2000-2009) www.africandecade.org.za;
- Ongoing work by the United Nations to adopt a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Draft Article 24 'Participation in Cultural Life, Recreation, Leisure and Sport.' www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/