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Paralympics: Sports as a tool for empowerment

A group of six young individuals are playing basketball. One of them is passing the ball to the other person.

It strengthens one’s self-esteem as well as one’s body and promotes understanding – sports for and with persons with disabilities. That’s why sports is so important for LIGHT FOR THE WORLD!

The Paralympics starting on September 7th are a great example how sport events make a contribution to a society where no one is left behind. Rio De Jenairo used the Paralympics as an opportunity to improve the accessibility within the city. Also, on an individual basis, sport changes the lives of persons with disabilities in terms of their physical and psychological health. That’s why LIGHT FOR THE WORLD supports persons with disabilities to be trained in different sports. How? Here are three ways LIGHT FOR THE WORLD uses sports as a tool for empowerment.

Rehabilitation for Persons with Disabilities in Mozambique

“In sports you throw a ball and do not immediately realize that this is a rehabilitation exercise. Sport strengthens one’s self-esteem as well as one’s body”, explains Domingos ‘Tio’ Langa, a former athlete and current coach and founder of the Sport Centre for Persons with Disabilities in Beira, Mozambique. Through the support of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD,  currently 250 persons with disabilities are being trained in different sports like wheelchair-basketball, badminton or goal ball. Sport functions as a dynamic tool to strengthen the self-esteem of young persons with disabilities. “Doing sports can be a way for persons with disabilities to show their abilities by participating in healthy, social competition with peers”, explains Domingos Langa.

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD also supports three sports associations in Sofala, Manica and Niassa and punctually supports both the Paralympic Committee of Mozambique as well as the national Sports Federation for Persons with Disabilities. Edmilsa Governo, a blind runner competing in the Paralympics this year, and her coach were supported by Light for the World for 16 days prior to the Paralympics to get ready for this important international sports event.

Promotion of Peace and Understanding in South Sudan

In South Sudan Light for the World supports refugees with disabilities in two Internally Displaced People’s Camps close to Juba. Several years ago, tribal fighting broke out among youth and adults in camp Mahad, where LIGHT FOR THE WORLD was working.  The organization helped found two sports clubs, one football and one volleyball team, to promote peace and understanding among the fighting tribal groups. Young people with and without disabilities from different tribes were selected for each team. After several discussions, many matches and learning sessions, the young team members became friends and decided to teach the entire camp community about peace and reconciliation. They even participated in different supporting activities from Light for the World like assisting persons with disabilities in referrals, helping elderlies and persons with disabilities during food distributions and other activities. Since 2015, no tribal fighting is registered in this specific camp and the youth are living in peace and harmony. Through sports and understanding they have made their camp the most peaceful camp in Juba town.

Promotion of Disability Inclusion in Bolivia

Together with the local partners in Bolivia, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD promotes the inclusion of young persons with disabilities in society. The local partner organization EIFODEC pursues an innovative approach to strengthen the abilities of children, youth and adults with disabilities through sports. They have developed a daily sports exercise module to systematically help children with disabilities built up their self-confidence. Every day over 200 children with disabilities exercise different types of sports like swimming, basketball, football and dance.

To further promote disability inclusion in the region and to reduce general prejudice against persons with disabilities, EIFODEC regularly organizes sports games and celebrations for the whole community and all the families of Sacaba: At the heart of the events lies the joy of doing sports together focusing on the abilities instead of the disabilities. 

Our sports programmes are supported by the Austrian Sports Ministry and UEFA Foundation.

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