Regardless of what age you are, whether that be a child or an adult, a lot of people can suffer from a low self-esteem and lack of confidence due to having a disability. A lot of people can feel left out and pushed aside as if they are no part of today's society - and although this isn't the case - the feeling is still there.
By allowing people to have the exact same access to sports, can greatly improve not only how they feel about themselves, but can help with how they function throughout their daily lives.
Here are some examples of the difference it can make.
Communicating and Socialising
It's very common for a person with a disability to miss out on social gatherings and activities because they feel as though they aren't able to communicate like others, and this then causes a lot of fear and embarrassment, resulting in them shutting down. But if they start to get out of the house more to participate in activities, this is overcoming the obstacle of having to socialise - because they already are, but in a fun, laid-back environment. This is a great way to interact with new people and develop future friendships.
Self-Esteem and Confidence
A lot of people who are dealing with a disability will often find it hard to be confident due to the lack of self-esteem. They will tend to fall into the trap of comparing themselves to their peers who do not have a form of disability, and this evokes all the questions like “Why am I so different?” “Why can't I just be like them?” “Why can they do things that I can't?”
When this happens, it's a slippery slope to climb back up because all the misery starts to kick in. By starting a sport that they're able to do, this rebuilds the mind into thinking that they are worthy, and can do activities that maybe some other people can't do. And from that - confidence is built, and they will feel capable of doing whatever they put their mind to.
Gross Motor Skills
Being able to make movements that have been carefully controlled using a large muscle in the body, in order to perform an action, is known as gross motor skills. This is essentially any kind of movement that means using a large muscle when doing things like walking, running and jumping. If a person has some form of disability, then they will most likely struggle with doing these movements properly. So when a disabled person participates in regular physical activities that help stimulate these muscles, it will enhance their motor skills by building up flexibility, strength, balance and coordination.
There are a lot of different issues that a disabled person may come to face along the way, most of them being within their mind. It's very easy for people to fall into a vicious cycle of depression, anxiety, stress, and anger issues because of the lack of stimulation they are able to get from the world. But by taking part in social activities, this will promote all the good stimulants in the brain like endorphins, which leave a person feeling happy and even at times, euphoric.
It would be silly to put a person with a disability into a group of able-bodied people, and ask them to get on with the activity, because it wouldn't be a fair playing field. How do you expect to have a fair match of football if one of the players isn't able to walk?
Adaptive sports (also known as disability sports or para sports) are essentially a sport that is played by all persons with some form of the same disability, whether that be physical or intellectual. A lot of the sports are very similar to all other able-bodied sports, the only difference being that they have been adapted to meet the person’s needs in terms of their disability.
Sports like this are usually split up into three different categories, people with a physical disability, people with an intellectual disability, and people who are deaf. Each category then has its own organisation that works with them to create competitive programs.
Sports can play a big part in everyone's life, but it tends to be even more important to a person with a disability. It's something that they have to latch onto, something that distracts them from certain other areas in their lives, and makes them have a purpose and a positive factor to focus on. Sport is also an amazing form of rehabilitation, not only on the physical body, but also as a way of feeling accepted into society. Another amazing benefit, is that it teaches independence, and that is something that everyone wants to feel within themselves, but sadly a lot of people with a disability don't.
The amount of people that have a disability and are involved in some kind of sport is increasing all around the world as the years go on. Since the late 1980s, different organisations have been including athletes with disabilities in large sporting events (if not the largest!) such as The Olympics and Commonwealth Games. Having said that, there are many different sports that are practised outside of these formal events too, that are still largely popular around the world. These include wheelchair basketball, wheelchair dancing, swimming, and weightlifting, as we all many other activities people can join if they are physically or mentally disabled.
There are many more largely known disability sporting events around the world. Here is a little bit more information about them.
Disability Commonwealth Games
For the first time in 2002, a selection of Para-Sports were added to the fully inclusive sports program that was held in Manchester. Twenty different countries were sent there with their best athletes (both male and female) who had a disability, and were able to compete in ten different events across five sports, which were swimming, lawn bowls, athletics, weightlifting, and table tennis.
There is a sports program that dedicates its time to anyone that has been injured during the war and is now disabled because of it. It's called The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Adaptive Sports, otherwise known as the VA. They are an organisation that encourages veterans to participate in sports programs that are held across the country.
This is held in the summer and the winter time, and it is amongst the world's fastest growing sports events. Sports that are included (to name a few) are golf, basketball, football, and bowling. It works on a whole other kind of basis as the other organisations because things can't be guided by sound.
This is catered to people that have an intellectual disability. This first began in 1968 (although the concept was first made in 1962), and is a large event that is held within the world. Many people have been a part of making this happen, beginning with Eunice Kennedy Shriver when she started a day camp at her home for people with these types of disabilities. And names like Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi have been mentioned over time for hosting such a big ceremony for this sport.
This is a multi-sport event for athletes that have physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and sensorial disabilities. This covers a large spectrum of people with some form of disability, giving every kind of athlete a chance to participate. The Paralympic Games are held straight after the Olympic Games have taken place, every four years.