• ENGSO Youth

Paralympic day in Latvia – opportunity to recruit new athletes and increase social inclusion

Zane is a Young Delegate from Latvia and a member of ENGSO Youth social inclusion working group. She has been working in the Paralympic sport sector since 2012, and has recently helped organised the Paralympic Sports day in Latvia.

Paralympic Sports day in Latvia is already a tradition. It has been occurring in Riga once a year since 2011. People from further regions of Latvia have adapted Paralympic Sports Day as a successful tool for increasing social inclusion and equal opportunities for people with various disabilities, making it a success story of the Latvian Paralympic committee.

Paralympic Sports day began as a small gathering of 100 people, and in 9 years of time time it has grown into a movement that helps to recruit future Paralympic athletes. Even in 2020, despite the Coronavirus crisis, we had the chance to organize our 10th Paralympic Sports day in Jurmala. This time with 50 people limit due to Covid-19, but more sports to try out. Participants had the chance to try out Para Shooting, Para Athletics, Rowing, Wheelchair Basketball, Sitting Volleyball and Wheelchair Running.

This year was different not only due to location changes, the number of people and restrictions but also because this year we used Sports marketing tools provided by the OSMOSIS project to implement social inclusion on a higher level. Due to small changes in our Marketing activities and organizational approach, each participant had a more direct and personal attitude from volunteers and coaches.

Key takeaways from the event:

  • We managed to recruit more than 120 new athletes – 45 of them are currently training professionally on daily basis.

  • We developed the event from 100 to 600 people participating in 4 years (we do not have an accessible training grounds to host more people).

  • More than 89% of people in Latvia knows, what Paralympic Sport is (it was 25% in 2011)

  • From 1 event per year in Riga to 9 events per year in all the regions of Latvia.

  • People show more interest in local events for people with disabilities and are willing to volunteer.

  • More than 50 children with physical impairments joined every-day general physical lessons in 2019.

  • First Lady of Latvia, Mrs. Andra Levite, became the Patroness of Paralympic movement in Latvia.

As our movement grows, so does the empathy and interest of people. We have made great steps forward toward social inclusion in Latvia. Currently, we are heading towards a fully accessible and certified Sport complex for people with disabilities – a unique project, which would help us with the lack of accessible training grounds. That wouldn’t be possible without our input in Paralympic Sports day, volunteers, marketing activities and media coverage throughout the years.

Find out more: http://osmosis-erasmus.com/