June and July 2012 were successful months for the Inclusion through Disability Sports (IDS) programme which saw more children incorporated and the introduction of 'Life Skills'; an initiative designed to send educative messages to participating children on issues such as leadership, self-esteem and responsibility. The Life Skills programme has been a great success. The children have not only expressed their enjoyment of the programme but have also demonstrated encouraging development on issues such as sanitation and health, in many cases even sharing what they have learnt with their friends outside of the project. Combined with the fun and exciting sports activity, this has helped add great value to the work being done on the project.
To give one example - Ajok Monica of Laroo is 14 years old and is in P.6. She is one the children taking part in the project who has a severe physical disability and she has played in several seasons with The Kids League. She plays wheelchair basketball and boccia and she has expressed an interest in playing showdown next season. She said that before taking part in the IDS programme she was very passive and did not believe that she would ever take part in sports games. She said that she is proud to have made new friends and to have taken part in games with peers both from her own school and from other schools. She notes that she has felt very happy since starting to take part in the programme and that through the life skills programmes she has learnt about the value of leadership and gained greater respect for her colleagues whilst also learning about personal hygiene. This demonstrates that the project is continuing to have a positive impact on its’ participants and that their continued involvement will help to ensure their personal development continues as they take part in fun activities that allow them to meet and interact with many new people.
A large focus of IDS continues to be promoting inclusion and interaction between able-bodied and disabled children. For example, in Gulu 20 able-bodied children have also been participating in the programme as well as children with mental impairments from Gulu Prison Primary School. Inclusion is a key pillar of IDS and is embraced fully and effectively by coaches and indeed the wider community. There has been a great deal of interest from able-bodied children in taking part in IDS activities which serves as key evidence that the programme is successfully changing social perceptions. Events such as those celebrating the Day of the African Child, on July 16th, where IDS children were invited to participate in well-received demonstrative events, serve to further raise awareness in the wider community.
Progress has been made in addressing the feedback from last year's programme; attendance issues are being tackled effectively. The future is bright for IDS, with 32 enthusiastic coaches committed to ensuring a sustainable programme continues to deliver great support for the participants. Meanwhile the project seeks to build on the success of events such as not only the aforementioned Day of the African Child, but also the July 21st VSO event at Pece Stadium which saw ten children and two coaches perform another demonstration. A similar event is planned to be held at Gulu University and there is the hope of more outreach work in other sub-counties such as Odek, Lalogi and Opit, to increase awareness of the project and the issues it seeks to highlight. GDPU also hosted a National Wheelchair Association wheelchair basketball course led by a member of the German Paralympic Committee who delivered a four day course, training about 35 participants from across Uganda. These coaches will be passing on these skills to their communities and represent an efficient way of promoting sustainability.
Planning has also been underway to expand and improve facilities. TKL Programmes Manager Euan visited Amuru-Pabo sub-county with Michal Aloya where a potential site for a basketball court was inspected. GDPU and TKL staff members agreed it was suitable - however significant investment will be required.
Mid-July saw the climax of the fourth IDS sports season at the Gulu GDPU centre. Children and parents from Pabo and Gulu attended and the large crowd was treated to a great festival of sport. The demonstrations of wheelchair basketball, volleyball, showdown, boccia and sit ball were indicative of the central theme of the season; children being given the spotlight and relishing the opportunity. In August planning began for the next season which will see the project continue in Gulu and Amuru, but also expanded into a third district in northern Uganda, Nwoya. Coaches have been selected and trained and children identified to take part in the programme – they await the start of activities with a great deal of excitement!
We would like to thank our project partner in the UK, Motivation UK, as well as our project partners GDPU who are doing great work in mentoring the children and their families in disability awareness issues. We would also like to thank our coaches for their hard work and dedication to the project and of course the participating children, for helping to make the project such a success. Finally, big thanks to project supporters Comic Relief and the Premier League.
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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