ONCE promotes the first Inclusive Sport Observatory

Wednesday, April 6, 2022, 9:36 a.m.

ONCE promoted the creation of the first Inclusive Sport Observatory. It is a tool for analyzing the sports practice of people with visual disabilities. Although it was created in 2019, the outbreak of the pandemic a year later slowed its activity, just like for sports competitions.

His studio work ranges from the school environment to high competition. Its objective is to reflect and develop proposals for internal and external actions that contribute to the improvement of sport in this sector of the population.

As an instrument and value of normalization, autonomy and personal development, from childhood to maturity, sport is one of society’s most important bets. ELEVEN in its model of social inclusion of all blind and visually impaired people.

For Imelda Fernandez, President of the Observatory and Vice-President of Social Services at ONCE, working and allocating more resources to sport is a vital issue in guaranteeing the rights to equality and inclusion of people with visual disabilities: “The benefits of sport and physical activity, at any age, are extremely important. This is why this Observatory was born”.

Established “Observatory of sports practice and physical activity” at the end of 2019, the appearance of the pandemic slowed down its activity, as did that of sports competitions. Now he is once again promoting his work, which has already started rolling moderately in 2021 with different steps to achieve his goals.

One of these was the approval of the document “Physical activity and sports practice for minors at ONCE”, which defines the frameworks in which they can practice sport, as well as the help and support that organization can offer them. Another was the “Report on the sports practice and physical activity of people affiliated with ONCE”, an analysis of the current sports situation of blind or visually impaired people, with reflections and proposals for the future that can influence lines of work over the next few years.

In addition, the preparation of what will be the first “Dossier of good practices for the encouragement and promotion of the practice of sport by blind or visually impaired people” is in progress, on an annual basis. For Imelda Fernndez, it is “a very relevant project, because it will allow us to share ideas that can help improve our participation in sports activities in all areas”. He adds that “the document will be distributed to all ONCE centers, as well as to external professional entities and groups, and will be updated periodically”.

On a practical level, the Observatory will promote two important events with sport as an axis of inclusion, normalization, knowledge and motivation for children, young people and their families.

The first of them started last year. This is the Sports Bridge Conference, organized by the Spanish Federation of Sports for the Blind (FEDC), from December 4 to 7, in which 60 boys and girls between 10 and 16 years old took part.

The second activity is the already historic “ONCE Sports Schools” which will be held this year in September in Tarragona, under the slogan “Let’s all play”. These two activities aim to promote knowledge of the sports managed at ONCE and to arouse interest in their practice.

The Observatory has representatives from all areas of the ONCE social group (ONCE, ONCE Foundation and Ilunion), and all departments or centers involved in the promotion of sport, education and socio-cultural entertainment, such as ONCE Territorial Councils, Educational Resource Centers (CRE) and the Spanish Sports Federation for the Blind (FEDC).

It has three people, including two from outside ONCE, experts in sport and disability, such as Brbara Fuertes (Deputy Director General for Women and Sport of the Superior Sports Council); Luis Leardy (Director of Communication and External Relations of the Spanish Paralympic Committee) and José Luis Vaquero (FEDC Swimming Technical Director and National Coach).

Luis Leardy explains that “in addition to being a pioneer, it is a very important initiative, since the Observatory will put an end, among other things, to the lack of data that repeatedly prevents the implementation of policies and ‘actions aimed at fostering this in the future, there will be, for example, a good pool of Paralympic athletes”.

For his part, José Luis Vaquero believes that the creation of this Observatory is also essential to reach physical education centers and teachers where schoolchildren, children and young people affiliated with ONCE receive a standardized education: “The problem is that for integrated physical activities, we need to give more resources to schools and teachers. It is very important to reach families”.

The main conclusion that has been drawn this year in all ONCE areas that intervene in sport for the blind (sports promotion, sports schools and FEDC) is that we must focus on its promotion among the youngest and continue to promote the federated sport with the blind or visually impaired in order to continue to develop successful sports careers in the future, such as those of Kim López or Adiaratou Iglesias (on the picture) who participated in the Spanish Indoor Athletics Championship at the end of February.

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