MinisterInnen und VertreterInnen aus rund 30 Ländern haben am runden Tisch in Graz teilgenommen, um anlässlich der Special Olympics das Thema Inklusion auf politischer Ebene zu diskutieren.
Sozialminister Alois Stöger bekannte sich: „Setzen uns für lückenlose Barrierefreiheit ein“.
Und unser Präsident, Germain Weber, hat als Redner die Vorschläge der Lebenshilfe zum Thema Österreich am Weg zum “unified sports“ eingebracht.
(unified sports: inklusiver Sport, also gemeinsam Sporteln)
Mehr zum Thema “Special Olympics: Lebenshilfe und Sport” findet ihr hier: Aussendung der Lebenshilfe anlässlich Special Olympics
Außerdem wollen wir euch den Bericht vom Präsidenten der Lebenshilfe nicht vorenthalten! Da es sich bei der Ministerkonferenz um ein internationales Treffen handelte, ist der folgende Text in Englisch:
Global Forum on Inclusion in Social Affairs and Sports
Round Table – Minister Conference
Stadthalle Graz, hall 1b, 1st floor, 10:15, Saturday, 18th march 2017
Austria on its way to Unified Sports
We know Unified Sports from Special Olympics, a program that combines approximately equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on sports teams for training and for competition
following a specific set of rules. We all can experience this innovative sport setting during the days of these World Winter Games so extraordinary prepared and supported by the team of Special Olympics
What steps have to be taken in our societies to establish unified sports?
Who are the main stakeholders on the road to this innovation?
Before analyzing these two questions briefly let me first give you some
background information on myself and especially my relation to the field
of intellectual disability.
Besides being Professor in the field of Psychology at the University of
Vienna, I have the honor and privilege to act as president Lebenshilfe
Lebenshilfe Austria, turning 50 years old in a couple of months, is
Austria’s largest organization offering services for over 13.000 persons
with intellectual disabilities with close to 5.200 FTE people employed.
The LH story started in the early 1960ties when parents from Salzburg,
with their children finishing their nine years compulsory special
education program, and with no appropriate vocational options available,
when these parents were setting up in the garage of their home
something we nowadays call workshop or sheltered work shop, thus
establishing at that time an innovative structure for meaningful and
productive job related activities for their children. A success story of a
special kind! However, does this sheltered workshop model today still
merit the label innovation?
You all know that the way we think towards people with disabilities has
consequences on our attitudes as well as actions we take towards people
with intellectual disability.
And we all remember and know that this thinking was not always kind,
accommodating, supportive or welcoming for them.
However, there are not few societies, including Austria, worrying with
questions like, why should we allow people with intellectual disability to
attend regular schools, why should we make efforts for an inclusive
educational system, or why should we allow people with intellectual
disabilities to live with us in our communities, having them in our
neighborhood, or why should we allow them to have a paid job, not
offering them a regular work, though many of them, with their skills,
make a quite productive job in their sheltered workshop! Why should we
allow people with intellectual disability to take part in activities at regular
sport clubs and why should we admit them to athletes’ associations in
Indeed there is an overwhelming set of research findings underpinning
the interaction between being excluded from the early days of one’s life
with remaining a stranger and being discriminated and segregated. With
this model we successfully nourished over the past decades our
prejudices towards people with intellectual disability!
It is a decade ago I came in touch with Special Olympics! From the
beginning on I felt that both organizations were struggling with quite
similar issues, major challenges, while at the same time dreaming of a
major change in quite a similar direction! The troubles and challenges as
I see them are mostly linked to our past, to our own history. The way we
conceived systems of support for people with intellectual disability by
accepting societies predominant thinking, that special environments,
outside from society’s mainstream, are the best for people with
intellectual disabilities. And both organizations have a major common
dream: contribute to building inclusive societies, societies where people
with an intellectual disability are welcomed and participate in all the
areas of everyday life, enjoy equal opportunities and where more and
more people without disabilities learn about the many talents of these
peoples and experience the unifying effect of their participation in
everyday life activities and its impact on social relatedness in general!
Finally, both of us we dream of societies in which people with intellectual
disability can enjoy the whole set of human rights! At the end this means
that Lebenshilfe and Special Olympics have to change the game within
their own systems.
Indeed, we view sport as one of the major drivers putting our societies on
the main road direction inclusion! Sports not only brings people
together, sport is about self-discipline, is about accepting rules, is about
fairness, is about shaping social skills, is about health, is about fun, it is
about learning to hope out of a frustrating experience, is about sticking
together, is about recreation, is about goal setting, is about learning one’s
limits, is about getting feedback, is about making good plans with others,
it is about building social networks, it is about health. So let’s start
inclusive sports from the early educational years on, let’s encourage sport
associations to go for an inclusive shift, with more and more people with
intellectual disabilities practicing their recreational sport activities in
inclusive sport clubs! And inclusive sports will be the golden road to set
up Austria’s first national unified sport league! Finally inclusive sport will
be an essential player for societies when developing new ties of social
cohesion and rebuilding a welfare state towards a welfare society!
Special Olympics Austria and Lebenshilfe Österreich are definitely major
Austrian stakeholders on our way to inclusive societies! However, there
are other major stakeholders to take on board of this agenda of change,
both public and private stakeholders, many of them gathered in these
days at different events of the WWG. And both of us dream to have these
stakeholders on board!
So, isn’t there a saying that we should follow our dreams?
The World Winter Games are indeed a great opportunity for this kind of
And why not following these dreams all together?