Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme Empowers Students with Disabilities to Get Physically Active through Adapted Sports
Funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has organised the Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme. The objective of the Programme is to empower children and youngsters with disabilities in Hong Kong special schools to get physically active, so as to promote their physical and psychosocial health and improve their quality of life. It also aims at advancing the professional competence and practice of adapted/special physical educators and practitioners, as well as promoting social interaction between children and youngsters with and without disabilities.
The Programme is honoured to have Ms. Catherine CARTY (UNESCO Chair on Transforming the Lives of People with Disabilities through Physical Education Sport, Fitness and Recreation, Munster Technological University, Ireland) as the Honorary Project Advisor. Since 2019, 25 Hong Kong special schools have participated in the Programme. Four disability school types are involved, namely, visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability, and intellectual disability of mild and moderate levels. It is expected that over 5,000 students, parents and teachers will benefit from the Programme and hence live out the concept of “Sports without Limits”.
Committing to the Belief of “Putting into Practice”
Regular participation in physical activity contributes to both physical and psychosocial health. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, children and youngsters with disabilities aged between 5 and 17 years are recommended to do at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. The recent 2019 Hong Kong Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth with Special Educational Needs (SEN) showed that less than 20% of children and youngsters with SEN met the WHO physical activity recommendation. The Principal Investigator of the Programme, Professor Cindy SIT, Professor, Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, CUHK, strongly believes, “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’. The Programme team therefore strives to make use of various means to help children and youngsters with disabilities achieve the WHO physical activity recommendation. We invite teachers, parents, and stakeholders to contribute to the well-being of children and youngsters with disabilities and to an inclusive society.”
Optimising Quality Physical Education
To engage students in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 50% of the physical education lesson time, the Programme has provided electronic devices and technical support to the participating schools. Physical education teachers can monitor students’ activity levels during physical education lessons through the use of the Polar PE solution system and an interactive electronic white board. They can also keep track of students’ activity levels to form a database, review their teaching regularly, and formulate the Individualised Education Programme (IEP) goals for students, which are in line with the latest development of STEM teaching and learning.
Promoting Regular Exercise
To encourage students with disabilities to engage in physical activity and reduce sedentary time, the Programme has provided the participating schools with diversified physical activity toolkits, and encouraged them to open up more free space for physical activity at different time periods (such as recess). Students can freely make use of the toolkits to engage in active play/games so as to develop an active and healthy lifestyle.
Introducing Adapted Sports
To increase the interest of and opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in different types of sports, four adapted sports, including aerobic dance, curling, goalball and sitting volleyball have been introduced. The participating schools can adapt sports equipment and game rules based on the disability types and the developmental needs of their students, thereby allowing them to freely choose and experience different types of adapted sports as well as building up their confidence. The Programme has also organised inter-class and inter-school activities and fun days to promote adapted sports and develop sports talents in students.
Pioneering Professional Training in Adapted Physical Activity
To promote the professional development of teachers, the Programme has collaborated with overseas experts and organised eight professional training workshops and webinars. The overseas experts include Professor Martin BLOCK, The University of Virginia, USA, Mr. Ken BLACK, Co-founder of The Inclusion Club, United Kingdom, Dr Kwok NG, Vice President of the European Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, and Mr. John BESTEBROER, Founder of Sports Compass Foundation, Netherlands. The professional training focuses on the integration of theory and practice in adapted physical activity. It is conducted in face-to-face, online, and webinar modes, which assist teachers in developing adapted physical education, as well as planning, designing and implementing adapted physical activity programmes. The professional training courses have been endorsed by the UNESCO Chair “Transforming the Lives of People with Disabilities, their Families and Communities, Through Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness” and various overseas adapted physical activity associations such as the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, the European Federation of Adapted Physical Activity, and the Asian Society for Adapted Physical Education and Exercise. It is expected that over 500 teachers will receive the professional training, and thereby benefit their students.
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, thereby promoting the exercise benefits and techniques at home. In collaboration with the Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China, 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 recently organised a colouring competition which includes primary, secondary and family sections, with the aim of increasing the awareness of doing exercise in students with disabilities and their parents. More than 200 artworks were received and all the outstanding ones are being exhibited online at the Programme’s website.
To know more about the Jockey Club “Sports without Limits” Youth Empowerment Programme, please contact us via:
YouTube Channel: HKJC-CUHK Sports without Limits Channel