Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme Benefits over 46% Special School Students
Hosts the First Local Symposium on Active Healthy Children and Youth with Disabilities through Adapted Physical Activity
The Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme (Programme), organised by the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, hosted the first ever local symposium on October 30 that gathered more than 180 principals, teachers, students and their parents from 28 special schools in Hong Kong, either attending in-person or virtually, to pledge support for empowering kids with disabilities to get active through adapted physical activity.
The Programme is pleased to announce that 28 special schools in Hong Kong (around 3,800 students) has joined since 2019, covering more than 46% of Hong Kong students studying in special schools. The Programme targets at children and youth with four disability types: visual impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI), physical disability (PD), and intellectual disability (ID) (mild and moderate levels). The aim is to advance professional competence and practice of physical education teachers and practitioners who are working with this population group, and promoting social inclusion between children and youth with and without disabilities.
To empower kids with disabilities to get active through adapted physical activity
The symposium began with the welcoming remarks by Professor Rocky S. TUAN, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK. Professor Tuan said, “CUHK is committed to undertake quality teaching and research in a comprehensive range of disciplines, and to fulfill its social responsibility via knowledge transfer. In the recently released CUHK 5-year Strategic Plan, “Research and Innovation” as well as “Social Responsibility and Sustainability Development” are two key areas of our strategic foci underpinning our effort and aspiration to bring positive impact on society for the betterment of humankind. I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Education Bureau, the local special schools and various sectors of society for supporting the Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme, which aims to promote physical education and physical activities in special schools for children with visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disabilities and intellectual disabilities of mild and moderate levels.”
Also officiating at the ceremony, Mr. Godwin Kam-tong LAI, Principal Assistant Secretary (Special Education) of the Education Bureau of the HKSAR Government expressed that the Education Bureau has all along been providing additional resources and professional support to special schools to enable them to providing students with appropriate education. He echoed the importance of physical activities and supported the idea of the train-the-trainer approach. “The Programme design covers multiple areas, and has introduced various adapted sports, including aerobic dance, curling, goalball and sitting volleyball. Teachers may adjust sports equipment and game rules to cater for different needs of their students, thereby allowing them to experience these adapted sports, increase their confidence, and develop their sports talents.”
Mr. Leong CHEUNG, Executive Director, Charities and Community, The Hong Kong Jockey Club said “The Hong Kong Jockey Club is committed to promoting ‘healthy community’ and sports for all so as to enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of citizens and nurture sports talents. Appropriate level of exercise is important to the physical and mental development of children with disabilities. With suitable and professional software and hardware supports, children with disabilities can also overcome their physical constraints and enjoy the fun and benefits of sports.”
Four speakers were invited to deliver speeches at the symposium. Professor Cindy Hui-ping SIT, Principal Investigator of the Programme, Chairperson and Professor of the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, CUHK, discussed the global physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents with disabilities at a macro level. She also presented the baseline data on physical fitness, physical activity, and quality of life in 471 children enrolled in special schools between January 2020 to July 2021. For physical fitness, children with hearing impairment performed the best in muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility tests, but had higher body fatness than children with physical disabilities and intellectual disabilities. For accelerometer-measured physical activity in 80 children, only 11.3% of them achieved the recommended MVPA 60-min per day; children with intellectual disabilities were most active (mean 39.3-min MVPA daily). For quality of life in 425 children and their parents, children with intellectual disabilities and hearing impairment had higher levels of perceived quality of life.
Dr. Lobo Hung-tak LOUIE, Senior Lecturer I, Department of Health and Physical Education, The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), talked about the opportunities for physical activity in community at the meso level. Dr. George Wing-hung LEUNG, Chairman of the Hong Kong Special Schools Council, told of his experience in promoting fun through adapted sports at school at the micro level. Mr. Roy Ching-yat CHAN, Senior Lecturer II, Department of Health and Physical Education, EdUHK, talked about adapted physical education amid the pandemic. The principals and representatives from local special schools participating in the Programme attended two professional sharing sessions on “Promoting Quality Physical Education through ICT” and “Physical Education and School-based Physical Activity for Children with Disabilities”.
Professor SIT, in her concluding remarks, conveyed an important message, “Regardless of age, sex, disability type, and individual ability, children and youngsters with disabilities should be given more opportunities to participate in physical activity. As such, they are able to experience and enjoy the fun of physical activity, thereby achieving the mission of ‘Sports without Limits’. More events will be coming out soon.”
Fostering School-Home Cooperation
To encourage students with disabilities to engage in physical activity out of school, the Programme has organised face-to-face and online parent talks and workshops since 2019, thereby promoting the exercise benefits and techniques at home. The Programme has produced a series of “Aerobic Fitness Videos for Exercising at Home” and provided each participating family with a family exercise toolkit to make it possible for students with disabilities and their parents to engage in physical activity at home by making good use of the online resources. With the theme “Sports without Limits”, the Programme has organised a colouring competition receiving over 200 submissions from students and parents.
Awards were presented at the Symposium to participating schools, teachers, students and their parents. They include Exemplary Teaching Video Awards, Exemplary Teachers Awards, Most Supportive School Awards and Coloring Competition Awards. For more information about the Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme, please visit: https://sportswithoutlimits.hk/.