Sport and Disability
People with disabilities have a particular place within the global agenda of “Sport for Development”. The World Bank estimates 600 million or 10% of the world’s population are people with disabilities, with at least 500 million living in the developing world. These numbers continue to increase as a result of accidents, armed conflicts and a high incidence of untreated disease to name a few.
Sport can play a key role in the lives and communities of people with disabilities, the same as their peers without a disability. However, additional benefits include:
- Socialization through sport is particularly valuable for people with disabilities 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.
- 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.
- Disability sport programmes serve to strengthen participants both mentally and physically, promote rehabilitation, and facilitate a capacity for self-help.
- Sport can promote the inclusion of girls and women who experience double stigmatization.
- 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.
As the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development and Peace stated; “Sport can integrate people with disabilities 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” (the UN Inter-Agency Task Force report “Towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals” can be downloaded here, PDF).
Additional information regarding the benefits of ‘sport for all’ is outlined in the following:
Note: By making use of the links below you will request a new window that takes you off the website of the United Nations. The United Nations is not responsible for the content of these sites.
- Magglingen Declaration (2003) see : www.sportanddev.org
- 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) see: 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’, see: www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/
This page has been provided by our partner, the International Paralympic Committee. For more information please visit www.paralympic.org.