“ETS for Youth Equality” (EYE) aims at creating new educational opportunities and innovative approaches for the personal fulfillment of young people with intellectual disabilities in Europe.
EYE will leverage the importance of Education Through Sport (ETS) as a driver for developing innovative educational formats and the creation of new methods connecting education and sport. Project final target group is young people aged 16-25 affected by intellectual disabilities or impairments and young people who deal with disability issues in their families/communities.
According to the EHSIS Eurostat survey (2012), people aged 15 years old and over in the EU-27 were affected by disabilities accounting for 70 million. That is 17.6% of the total population. 25.6% of people involved in the survey reported a disability relating to education and training, 38.6% to employment, and 60.9% to leisure activities.
Eurostat pointed out that the prevalence of disability is higher for people with a lower educational attainment. A 2014 Eurobarometer report shows that having a disability or illness is the main reason for not practicing sport at all (declared by 20% of those who never exercise or play sport, compared with 11% of those who do so seldom). Also, the report demonstrates that having a disability or illness is the main reason for 13% of the EU population not practicing sports more regularly (Special Eurobarometer 412, Sport and Physical Activity, Report, March 2014, p.56 and p.5 respectively).
Meanwhile, research shows a strong connection between participation in organized sports and a wide range of positive outcomes. By participating in sport, individuals with disabilities experience improved social skills, self-confidence, self-determination, and increased independence [Weiss, J., Diamond, T., Demark, J., & Lovald, B. (2003).
Involvement in Special Olympics and its relations to self-concept and actual competency in participants with developmental disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 281-305]
- The experience of the applicant Special Olympics, member of the international Special Olympics network, bears out this assessment and furthers it into the inspiring reason of this project. Special Olympics has developed a program of inclusive sports (Unified Sports) in which people with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete on the same sports teams. Research findings over the foregoing programme have highlighted the critical role played by coaches and volunteers as leaders and role models in promoting its wider goals, namely to encourage the development of friendships and social acceptance of young athletes with intellectual disabilities (Kersh and Siperstein 2007, Norins et al 2007, Dowling et al. 2010).
EYE builds on the mentioned experience by proposing an articulate cooperation among partners experienced in the educational use of Sport, with a specific focus on exploring Sports dimension as a tool of customized personal and social development for youngsters affected by intellectual disability, but it also aims to challenge the stereotyping and marginalization of young athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) are one of the most vulnerable populations in the world.
Utilizing sport as a medium, young athletes with intellectual disabilities become equals to their peers and as a result, attitudinal changes are witnessed.
ETS will be the centerpiece of the project, as a liaison and tool to foster the inclusion of intellectually disabled youth, their participation in society, and in education/training.
ETS combines sport practice and non-formal education (NFE) with a view to developing soft skills, basic skills, and attitudes enhancing the social inclusion and the transversal dimension of employability. ETS is a very effective tool to raise awareness about the importance of equality and of equal opportunities among young people in and through sport.
The project will focus on developing sports activities that encourage people with intellectual disabilities to participate as citizens in their communities, public life, society, and through the development and implementation of European cooperation whilst promoting awareness to the public of the value of the Special Olympics’ social inclusion.
A key priority is to promote equal opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) to participate in sports training and sporting competition.
EYE will comply with 4 of the 8 priority areas called for by the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020:
-education and training,
The ET2020 Strategy has among its objectives the promotion of equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship as well as the improvement of the quality and efficiency of education and training. This is particularly relevant for young people affected by intellectual disabilities, who can find an effective inclusive tool in sport education.