The Inclusion Through Disability Sport (IDS) Project went from strength to strength as it neared the end of the first year of the project. The third sports season got under way in Gulu, northern Uganda while in the neighbouring district of Amuru, project activities officially began in the town of Pabo. During the first year of the project The Kids League and its’ partner organization Gulu Disabled Persons Union has managed to reach 150 children living with a variety of disabilities in both of these districts, providing sports training and mentoring for children and their families. During sports seasons children do training with their teachers in their respective schools – all of whom have been trained by The Kids League to deliver sports coaching to children with disabilities – and then come together to interact with children from different schools and take part in a variety of sports activities. The children have participated in football, volleyball, goalball, boccia and wheelchair basketball, making new friends and demonstrating their capabilities to both their school peers and the wider community. For example, aside from the regular league activities, the project partners have organised or participated in 5 community events, in which 135 children (including 12 without disabilities) demonstrated inclusive sports or spoke publicly about the need for disability inclusion. These public events reached over 500 people from the local communities. Finally, during the final day of the third season, all the participants plus many guests from the local community attended the finals of the sports season; all the children had a great time demonstrating their skills and celebrated the opportunity to have fun and enjoy these activities in a public setting, supported by many members of the community.
The IDS project has had a remarkable impact on many children who have taken part in the project. For example, one participant, Pauline, had this to say about the impact her mentor, Jennifer, and having the opportunity to play sports had on her family’s perception of her:
“Before I had interaction with Jennifer, I feared explaining my problems to my relatives, but after a number of discussions and advice I got from Jennifer I can now share my problems with her. For instance I dropped out of school in 2007 when my mum died, but she has encouraged me to go back to school. I am now studying in Gulu Prison Primary School. She has talked to my uncles and now they have hired someone to transport me to school on a motorcycle every day and life has become better. At school I have lots of friend that I play with. Whenever I have any problem, I usually tell her first. I now call her my Aunt.”
Jennifer’s is of many success stories, and indicates the ability of the project to tangibly change children’s lives for the better. Her confidence in her sporting ability and progress in enrolling in school is testament to the ability of the IDS project to, first and foremost, directly help intended beneficiaries, but also to demonstrate the importance of inclusion to the wider community. Around a quarter of the children enrolled in the project do not currently attend school, so the peer mentors are working hard to change that. The inclusion of girls into the project – girls themselves being particularly marginalized in the local setting, girls with disabilities even more so – is also a priority for the project partners.
Furthermore, TKL would like to expand the scope of the project by encouraging more activities focused on inclusion. Several children without disabilities currently participate in the project to promote the potential of children both with and without disabilities to play sports together. This is something TKL would like to expand and for which we are looking for funding. We hope to continue to promote the rights and abilities of people living with disabilities in within the local community, each small step ensuring that in the future people living with disabilities will be accepted and championed within their communities.
We would like to thank our project supporters, Comic Relief and Motivation UK, as well as our project partners GDPU, coaches and of course the participating children, for helping to make the project such a success. We invite donations and also suggestions on how we can improve and expand the impact of our project both within the local community in Gulu and across the rest of northern Uganda.
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