Independence and Sport Participation
The definition of what it means to be independent and the value that individuals place on independence varies from culture to culture, and person to person. Many define independence as “self-care”. However, in the context of disability, independence has been defined as “the ability to be in control of, and make decisions about, one’s life.”
Sport has the power to reduce dependence and develop greater independence by helping individuals to become physically and mentally stronger. Sport also promotes social-emotional development and facilitates self-help. Studies have found improvements in participants’ emotional control, social awareness, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-concept, as well as increased motivation and independence.
The SDP IWG Report, “Harnessing the Power of Sport for Development and Peace: Recommendations to Governments”, made the following policy and programmatic recommendations which Member States, with SDP IWG support, are encouraged to implement:
- Increase public awareness of the rights and capabilities of persons with disabilities and the importance of ensuring their full participation in society.
- Establish more fundamental social supports for persons with disabilities, to ensure that they can participate fully in sport.
- Define the terms “sport for all”, “disability”, “participation”, “mainstream sport”, and “disability-specific sport”.
- Declare the right of persons with disabilities to participate fully in society and affirm the realization of this right as a national objective.
- Emphasize the importance of developing sport opportunities for persons with disabilities and equal opportunities for females and males to participate.
- Invest in programmes to produce and make available low-tech, low-cost adaptive aids.