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Using Sport to Empower Persons with Disabilities

Empowerment can mean giving power and authority to someone, or giving them confidence and strength. In the context of this chapter, “giving confidence and strength” best describes the role that sport can play in helping persons with disabilities to acquire the knowledge, skills, and confidence to become effective advocates for themselves and others. Many individuals with disabilities accept the exclusion and discrimination they encounter because they feel powerless to change their situation. Additionally, many persons with disabilities have never been taught that they deserve more equitable treatment and that they have rights which should be respected. Sport has an effective means of building knowledge and awareness among persons with disabilities because it allows large groups to come together in an enjoyment way.
Sport also provides a forum to enable persons with disabilities to build the skills they need to advocate for and influence change.

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:


  • Create strong physical education requirements for all children.
  • Ensure that policies and practices are rights-based, with suitable and effective enforcement mechanisms.
  • Actively communicate government sport and disability policies and make them easily accessible to donor agencies, development partners and affected individuals.


  • Organize forums where parents of children with disabilities can gather, share experiences and ideas, and network.
  • Exercise flexibility when partnering with local development programmes.

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