Sport represents a great part of human interest and life. Historically sport activities and other similar activities have attracted huge interest since ancient times. Current evidence can be traced back to 30,000 years as examples of paintings in caves originating from prehistoric periods.
Sport activities in the form of rehabilitation originate from the Greek, Roman, and Chinese empires. Then they already knew that physical activity was an excellent media for rehabilitation, since they also dealt with the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual elements of a person.
The basic goal of physical activity is to optimize the psychosomatic condition of the individual, make effective use of the leisure time, preventive health care procedures and improve health, well-being and recovery.
Sport is an area of human activity, which is important for all citizens of the European Union with an exceptional potential for unifying people. It concerns everyone, regardless of age, social status, disability, race or gender. However, we face the fact that people with disabilities are physically less active than their peers, and consequently 38% are overweight (53% more than people without disability). Physical inactivity is the fourth most common risk factor for premature mortality. At the same time, we must be aware that every sixth person in the European Union suffers from a mild or severe form of disability, which means approximately 80 million individuals. Many European countries are aware of this problem and act accordingly.
Sports activities represent an effective method for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. Taking part in sporting activities helps people with disabilities to achieve greater quality of life and greater social inclusion. For this purpose, they need to be able to participate in sports events and appropriate sports programs, where they can engage equally and access sports and recreational areas. Sports activities must also become an integral part of the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, regardless of the type or level of their disability, age and level of physical fitness.
These facts are the reason that 8 partners from 8 European countries gathered within the framework of the Erasmus + Sport with a project entitled “European sports network for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities “ReSport”, connecting many organizations, professionals, people with disabilities and their relatives, volunteers and all who have a common goal of equal opportunities. We decided to follow this goal and join in the preparation of comprehensive sports solutions in the field of physical activities with rehabilitation effects for persons with disabilities. Therefore, after a long planning process and discussion, we created and published European ReSport Guidelines for the implementation of “ReSport Activities”.
As project partners we are aware of the importance of ensuring equal access and equal opportunities for all and promoting healthy physical activity for all, especially for people with disabilities. It is believed that patterns of physical activity are fundamental to lifelong physical activity and health in the future and that they represent an important part of every individual’s life.
The Guidelines is a result of the team work of the interdisciplinary team of all partners in the project. The members of the working group have made an enormous contribution in terms of time, effort, knowledge and experience in shaping the guidelines, and this is why we are extremely grateful to the whole team.
The Guidelines contain a number of directions and examples of good practice that will help all readers - employees, therapists, trainers, people with disabilities, their relatives and interested members of society - in deciding and preparing programs of adaptive and integrated sports activities for people with disabilities. Following the guidelines allow us to take appropriate actions and monitor users in various adapted sports activities, timely identification and prevent possible complications, and thus carry out sports and recreational programs smoothly.
According to the data of international and national health and sports organizations, physical activity is very important factor in maintaining health. Indeed, persons with disabilities, representing almost 15% of the world’s population, rarely participate in sport and physical activity.
At the same time, we understand that, like everyone else, they have to fight more and more for their rights, and always look for optimal solutions for rightful development. Based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted in 2006, the signatory countries of the Convention committed to ensure appropriate conditions for the development of sports for persons with disabilities, especially with regards to sports facilities, financing, school system and education, both at state level and in the local community, and introduce appropriate actions to enable persons with disabilities, as well as others, to participate in recreational, leisure and sporting activities.
Nevertheless, we still notice that there are too few existing programs and organizations that allow them to exercise properly. It is of utmost importance that we encourage and raise awareness both among state and experts at all levels about the need to increase the chances of including people with disabilities in various sports and recreational programs. “Re Sport” Guidelines are designed to promote awareness of the importance of the physical activity of people with disabilities, to transfer knowledge at European level and to inspire as many of them as possible to be active in their life.
Sport and recreation have many other positive outcomes, and one of these is certainly connecting people with and without disabilities. It is an excellent opportunity for integration, overcoming prejudices and creating a tolerant society. And the authors of the ReSport Guidelines hope that it will serve this purpose!