By Matinyi Veronica



Girls and boys with disabilities are often excluded from participation in their societies. The outside the circle research commissioned by Plan International (Coe, 2013) found that in West Africa attitudes towards children with disabilities and language used to describe them are overwhelmingly negative and based on false assumptions and beliefs. The study found huge resistance at all levels to including children with disabilities in mainstream schools from parents, teachers, peers, community members and education leaders.

Children with disabilities especially girls are highly vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect. Contesting stigma towards children with disabilities at all levels should be a priority according to the study. The government, Non-government organizations and community structures are potentially the enabling factor to fight stigma and promote Inclusion in the communities. However, the inclusion of children with disabilities in regular activities is considered to be a challenge. Further, those intending to promote Inclusion lack practical tools and resources. These findings are not limited just to West Africa. UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report estimates that, globally only 10% of children with disabilities are in school and only 5% finish Primary school (UNESCO,2007). Sport for Inclusion has been developed as practical training that builds the capacity of teachers, community workers, coaches and field staff to promote disability inclusion from community to ultimately national level.

Sport for Inclusion activities in Mukono and Buikwe Districts

Sport for Inclusion has been designed through partnership between the UNESCO Chair and Plan International. ‘Transforming the lives of persons with disabilities, their families and communities through Physical Education, sports, Recreation and fitness’ Sport for Inclusion promotes disability Inclusion by training including girls and boys with disabilities through sport and play activities. They believe in the power of sport as a medium to bring positive change. Sport for Inclusion represents reflections, guidance and hands-on practice to ensure sport, play and physical activity are inclusive of anyone and in particular for children and young people with disabilities.

The Inclusive sports festival is held annually in Mukono and Buikwe districts and over 15 schools participated in inclusive sports festival on the Friday 15th November and 18th November 2019 at St. Kizito Catholic school, Lutengo and St. Alphosus Demonstration school, Nkokonjeru respectively. Children with disabilities and their counter parts participated in a number of physical activities and sport games using modified and locally made equipment. Among the activities were: The Inclusion bus game, relay race (grab an object, tennis, football), Lion attack, clear the decks, blind football/soccer, progressive muscle relaxation, parachute games, sitting volley ball, balloon ball, pass 10 and connect.

All the mentioned inclusive activities were designed with adaptations following the TREE model. Hence, adapt the Teaching approaches = adapt the Rules to follow for a particular activity = adapt the Environment making sure it’s free from danger and accessible then E = adapt the Equipment to the ability of children with different abilities. However, four principles need to be considered in planning and reflection of Inclusive sport sessions, namely:

  • Safe -will the session be safe for everyone to participate?
  • Fun-will the session be fun for everyone?
  • Inclusive-will the session be inclusive for everyone?
  • Progressive-will the session be progressive for everyone?

                                                       (adapted from save the children,2016)

Why Sport for Inclusion?

The importance and relevance of using sport and play as a means to promote inclusion of children aims to have the following impacts on children with disabilities and on society.

v  Empowerment: Sport and play give the opportunity and the necessary space to CWDs to find new ways of dealing with the challenges of daily life. Through play, children with and disabilities will discover their abilities.

v  Social Interaction and Inclusion: The sense of being appreciated. Sport is one of the easiest ways to start social interaction, initiating and facilitating first contacts. For many CWDs providing access to sports might be the first time they have an opportunity to play with children other than their siblings.

v  Health and Wellbeing: There is increased value of the role of sport and physical activity in attaining optimal wellbeing for all. Children and adults with disabilities have ever more to gain from these activities than those without disabilities.

v  Raising Awareness: Sport is an ideal means of gathering a large number of people together. It therefore provides an excellent platform for raising awareness. If well organized, an inclusive sport and play event will showcase the abilities of children with disabilities.

What can be done to overcome attitudinal, structural, access and personal barriers or challenges?

  • ·     Creation of opportunities and accessibility
  • Accessibility of facilities
  • Accessibility of transport items
  • Provision of adequate equipment, assistive technologies
  • Appropriate signage
  • Provision of human and financial resources
  • Put policy into practice
  • Collaborate and build fruitful partnerships
  • Train teachers, coaches and community volunteers
  • Create opportunities for active participation for all
  • Ensure equal employment and income opportunities for PWDs
  • Positive and open attitudes towards CWDs
  • Awareness raising and Education
  • Create opportunities to experience playing sport with CWDs
  • Reduce fear by creating opportunities to meet and play together
  • Boost confidence and self-esteem of CWDs
  • ·     Use positive role models


 The writer is a Teacher trained in Special Needs Education and a trainer of trainers in Inclusive sports with a (N0MA)

Norwegian Masters of Vocational Pedagogy for Persons with Disabilities of Kyambogo University.