In the period 13-17 April 2023, an international sports event was held in Rijeka, Croatia, in which a total of 60 athletes with intellectual disabilities from both countries took part. During the past year, the athletes conducted training activities, in order to be maximally prepared for the international event. The program included athletics, swimming, basketball and different sports games. The Bulgarian delegation included athletes from RCSPIE – Smolyan, State facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in the town of Banya – Sonic Start, SC Adapted Sports, Adapted Basketball NSA, Center for Secured Employment “Vduhnovenie”, Protected housing for persons with intellectual disabilities, Sofia. The sports event was held with the support of students from the Adapted Physical Activity and Sports specialty (NSA “Vasil Levski”), which is becoming more and more relevant and provides prospects for the development of young people.
During the sports event, the participants also had the opportunity to meet Ognyan Zlatev, head of the European Commission’s representation in Croatia, who shared with the athletes: “The equality of all citizens of the European Union is a top priority and being part of the big EU family, we have the same rights and enjoy the same freedom.”
The international sports event is realized within the framework of the SMILE initiative – Sport, Motivation, Inclusion, Leadership, Engagement, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and is coordinated by Bulgarian sports development association. The initiative aims to analyse the link between sport and inclusion in an innovative and different way – by ensuring international participation in sport activities of persons with intellectual disabilities.
THE FOLLOWING OUTPUTS WILL BE DEVELOPED TO ACHIEVE THE PROJECT AIMS:
- Good practices toolkit edition #SMILE;
- Empowered sport experts and organizations that will continue utilizing the tools that #SMILE will develop in the project framework and onwards;
- Delivered international sport event #SMILE that will gather persons with intellectual disabilities from Bulgaria and Croatia after set of national trainings sessions in each country.
THROUGH THE PROJECT ACTIVITIES, WE AIM TO EMPOWER PERSONS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES TO:
- Discover the power of sport as an inclusion mechanism through personal experience;
- Co-create together with the partners experts a good practices tool-kit of Inclusion through sport for persons with intellectual disability and/or mental health challenges;
- Take part in an international sport event #SMILE;
- Implement local training sessions with the persons with intellectual disability and/or mental health challenges in order to ensure snowfall effect;
- Ensure good practices transfer between project partners.
#SMILE project is totally in line with the horizontal objectives, pursued by the Erasmus+ Programme, that is co-funding the present initiative, aiming to ensure inclusion and diversity in all fields of education, training, youth and sport as the project idea itself is a representation of the inclusion of a highly disadvantage group into international activities. The proposal is in line as well with the priority of encouraging participation in sport and physical activity as all the actions that SMILE will implement are focused on sustainable involvement of persons with intellectual disabilities in sport activities on local, national and international level.