Head of European Commission's Sports Department Lectures at MGIMO
Anyone can. How inclusive sports are developing in Russia
Every person from birth has the right to an active, vibrant and fully social life. For some, inclusion in society is easy, while others grab every opportunity so as not to be isolated from it.
Sport is a great chance to push the boundaries of what is possible and live a full life. It is he who is able to unite people, despite their differences. After all, the most important feature of sports is inclusion : there is room for absolutely everyone. As part of a joint project of the Championship and Coca-Cola in Russia, we will talk about the development of inclusive sports, the Special Olympics and tell you what each of you can do today to help inclusive athletes.
Inclusion: what is it and for whom?
The essence of an inclusive society is that it includes all people, values and respects everyone, regardless of social status, views and health. Inclusion is for everyone. It enables people with physical or intellectual disabilities to lead an active life, travel, play sports on an equal basis with others.
Why do we need inclusive sports ?
In theory, anyone can go in for sports and attend sports sections. In practice, the situation looks a little more sad: people with physical or mental disabilities often do not want to be taken to sports schools. There are many reasons: too much responsibility, problems with adaptation in a group with other athletes - all these are formalities, because of which sport for some reason becomes a privilege. Although joyful emotions from a team game, movement and a charge of energy are needed by everyone.
The first person who decided to change the situation of people with physical or mental disabilities was activist Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of US President John F. Kennedy. Eunice knew from personal experience what communication with people with disabilities is. Her older sister Rosemary, at 23, underwent a lobotomy at the insistence of her father: he hoped it would calm her daughter's sudden mood swings and violentness. But after the operation, the girl's mental capabilities dropped to the level of a two-year-old child. She could not walk, control herself and talk normally.
In 1963, Eunice and her husband Sargent converted their house in Maryland into a sports camp for people with mental retardation. The pair closely watched the campers and studied their abilities. It turned out that their inner potential is so great that, with the support and training, people with intellectual disabilities can show very high results in various fields, especially in sports.
Sport allows people with disabilities to fulfill themselves and forms character. For example, in Nizhny Novgorod, thanks to the innovation center Shining, the Football for Children with Down Syndrome project was launched, in which 16 children are now training together with a coach-teacher. One of the players, Semyon Komarov, is seven years old. The boy has decreased muscle tone -this is one of the manifestations of the diagnosis. According to the mother, thanks to the classes, her son has been transformed and now plays football on a par with ordinary children.
One of the important factors for the development of inclusive sports is the availability of appropriate infrastructure. To ensure that people with physical and mental disabilities have a place where they can freely communicate, play and play sports with their peers, Coca-Cola in Russia, together with the Naked Heart Foundation, is building 11 inclusive play parks with football fields. Anyone can visit the sites, it's free. In these parks there are no curbs and passages, which are impossible to drive in a wheelchair, all simulators and game elements are equipped with ramps, and the rest can be climbed independently with the help of hands.
Sports are becoming more accessible
Photo : Championship
Athletes with physical and mental disabilities: who are they?
Despite the fact that it is much more difficult for such people to realize themselves in life, some of them achieve considerable heights in sports and inspire others by their example.
Russian swimmer Dmitry Kokarev proves that everything in life is possible if you persist in achieving your goal. Despite the disappointing diagnosis of cerebral palsy, the boy became interested in swimming as a child, and at the age of 14 he got into the Russian Paralympic team. Now Dmitry is breaking one record after another, is a three-time Paralympic champion and a 13-time world champion!
Kristina Vodopyanova first came to the course of hippotherapy 12 years ago, when she was four years old and did not speak at all. Now the girl speaks confidently and has been professionally engaged in equestrian sports for seven years. Christina returned from the Special Olympics World Summer Games this year from Abu Dhabi with three gold medals in her personal collection and is not going to stop there.
What is a Special Olympics and who can participate in it?
The Special Olympics is an international charitable organization that conducts sports competitions for people with intellectual problems. Its goal is to help such people take full and productive participation in the life of society through sports. Coca-Cola has been a founding partner of the Special Olympics since 1968. During this time, more than 3 million people from 180 countries have become members of the special Olympic movement.
Within the framework of the Special Olympics programs, athletes can engage in both summer and winter sports: from snowboarding and figure skating to sailing sports and judo. It is noteworthy that at the Special Olympics, participants are not divided by nationalIonic affiliation, therefore there are no team scores between different countries.
Everyone can participate in the Special Olympiad
Inclusive competitions: what are unified matches?
An integral part of the Special Olympics is the organization of inclusive competitions. They spark the interest of athletes and motivate them to achieve better results. A prime example of inclusive competition is unified matches. Their uniqueness is that people with and without developmental disabilities play in the same team.
Over the past years, more than 10 unified football matches have been held in our country. In addition to athletes, they were attended by movie and show business stars, representatives of business and government - everyone who wants to draw public attention to the problem of including people with disabilities in everyday life.
Helping people with disabilities: what is Coca-Cola doing in Russia already?
- Coca-Cola Russia has been actively supporting the Special Olympics movement since 2015.
- The largest block of social investment spending in 2018, that is, 45% of the total, was invested by Coca-Cola in Russia in the development of an inclusive society.
- With its support, inclusive parks are created, and football and hockey unified matches are held.
- In 2018, the traditional Christmas caravan was for the first time held in an inclusive format, and now it will happen regularly.
For more information on how Coca-Cola in Russia has contributed to the development of an inclusive society and to solving other social and environmental problems, see the interactive report. Choose a topic that interests you and learn more about it.
How can you help people with disabilities?
- Change your own attitude. To do this, you can stop avoiding communication with special people and not using the wrong language towards them. Don't call them inferior or deviant. Start with yourself, share it with others - then the world will gradually get better.
- Give an opportunity. Make a donation on the Special Olympiad website (at the bottom of the page there is a Donate function, after which you will receive a letter with the details of CO in Russia).
- Get closer. You can become a volunteer at unified matches or a coach. The Special Olympiad welcomes people who will help special athletes to practice. www.specialolympics.ru - there is also the function Become a Unified Partner or Become a Trainer.
- Donate. The Special Olympiad organizes unified matches and other inclusive events in Russian cities. Come cheer for the athletes!
The global trend in the work of the company today is awareness. Coca-Cola in Russia implements not only social initiatives in support ofinclusive sports, but also cares about the environment, implementing numerous projects and actions. See if you could manage such a large company for the benefit not only for the business, but also for those around you.