On Wednesday 17 October, the Laureus Sport for Good Global Summit discussed the importance sport can play for inclusivity.
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation was originally founded in response to Nelson Mandela’s iconic quote in 2000. Nearly twenty years later, the Laureus Sport for Good Global Summit is spearheading inclusivity through the power of sport.
In the outskirts of Paris, the second day of the Laureus Sport for Good Summit began with a thought provoking and intriguing question: we all like to think we’re inclusive, but how can we be more inclusive?
Regardless of ability, sport can be a haven for millions worldwide and almost all are easily adaptable. This is more than just sport, it is supporting communities to better education and awareness of disability.
Laureus Sport for Good holds six key messages to help eradicate current social issues. During the event, sponsored by Allianz, projects worldwide came together to discuss changes possible for their local and wider community through sport.
Helping the disabled community, specifically children with learning disabilities, to become further integrated in sport can be the pivotal step for inclusion and understanding
Anna Schaffelhuber, seven-time gold medal para-alpine skier for Germany, agrees: “From Ethiopia to Germany and the United States, it starts at the very basics and works with children and adults. Children are the best people to give information on inclusion and diversity because it is better to start early and support people all over the world.
If you’re in the same class with someone you will talk about the subject. If you have a learning disability you’re not in the same class and people don’t come into contact with each other.
I think it’s very important that everyone goes to a sports class because they come in contact with each other and we can learn a lot from people with a learning disability.
With sport you’re working together in a way you wouldn’t in the classroom, you talk in a different way because you have the same experiences.”
On the panel, projects supported by Laureus Sport for Good detailed why, and how, inclusion was so important and made possible.
South African based project, Waves for Change showcased how their work has spread awareness of safety on South Africa’s beaches and the importance of surf therapy for autistic children. Without their work many families would be hesitant to allow children onto beaches and miss out on the beauty of surfing.
From projects based in India to the Columbia’s National Paralympic Committee, which is one of the most inclusive and successful Paralympic sporting organisation world-wide, detailed their work to promote inclusivity through children. In attendance were 130 Laureus supported programmes getting involved in informative and passionate debates, discussions and activities.
Their work would not be possible without Laureus, Allianz, and sporting ambassadors.
Part of Laureus is their innovative Laureus Academy, alongside Ambassadors, combining over 200 of the greatest sporting stars from the past and present. The Academy Members and ambassadors help to share the message of Laureus, inclusivity, alongside sport as an important tool.
During the event, Anna, was announced as the organisation’s newest ambassador. “It feels really good,” enthuses Anna. “I was told about the programmes and work Laureus is doing and I was really inspired.”
Andy Barrow, retired wheelchair rugby player for Great Britain, also discussed the work that Laureus puts in to change perceptions of disability across western and eastern societies – a crucial step to reaching equality. Most importantly, is the need to get active within your community and get to know others in a similar situation.
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We caught up with Laureus Ambassador and paralympic wheelchair rugby champion Andy Barrow! He discusses the work of #sport, #inclusion and getting involved in the activities you're passionate about. Catch the full interview online soon. #LaureusSummit Sport for Good sponsored by @Allianz @LaureusSport
Andy encourages: “Try physical activity, try finding a community where you do something together with other people that is an inconsequential past time. It might be football, joining a dance troop, or even a knitting club – as long as you’re together and speaking with people. What was tremendously beneficial for me in the very early days if my accident was, through wheelchair rugby, learning people’s life hacks.”
It has to be said, without funding from Allianz – one of the leading integrated financial service providers worldwide – many of the projects based in Columbia, India and here at home in the UK, would not be possible.
Anna expresses: “You get the opportunity. Allianz is a big company and they do a lot in Paralympic sport and a lot with diversity, you can use their networks to bring new resources to different projects. It is very, very important to have them.”
“We all love the quote, ‘sport can change the world,’ and we all subscribe and believe in it,” concludes Andy. With all parties combined, sport really has the power to change the world.