As part of the International Inspiration Programme, London 2012’s social and sporting legacy initiative – which uses the power of sport to enrich the lives of millions of children and young people of all abilities across the world – UK Sport’s Senior International Advisor Elias Musangeya hosted the Department for International Development on their visit to an International Inspiration project in Uganda. In this blog, Elias tells us about the work International Inspiration is doing to help promote development through sport.
I was lucky enough to join Lynne Featherstone, Permanent Under Secretary of State for International Development, and former Paralympian Ade Adepitan on a visit to Uganda at the end of last year. The reason for our visit was to see the good people at St Francis School for the blind to witness the work local partners undertake through International Inspiration and to illustrate the impact it has had on millions of children, young people and marginalised groups around the world.
The St Francis School for the blind is in a village called Madera, 5km north east of Soroti town, and is one of 15 Ugandan schools linked to UK schools for a three year partnership project aimed at enriching lives through physical education and sport. The school also acts as a hub, bringing people together through community sport. The International Inspiration Programme (IIP) has helped to train the visually impaired students to become young sport leaders and coaches, using their skills to deliver inclusive sports at schools and within their communities.
One such event they arranged was a fantastic welcome reception to greet us as we arrived at the school. We were met with a series of music and dance performances to give us a flavour of their local traditions and cultures. The young sport leaders went on to give speeches, recite poems and perform raps and songs, truly demonstrating that disability is not inability. They also showed off their Goalball skills, of which St Francis are the national Ugandan champions.
The young leaders at St Francis School are looked after by head teacher Sister Winifred, an excellent leader, who believes in the power of sport and, along with her committed staff, has worked tirelessly to keep the students active, happy and achieving great results.
Soroti Community Festival - Disabiity and Inclusion from International Inspiration on Vimeo.
It was heart-rending to learn, though, that a Paralympian and former student of St Francis was at the London 2012 Paralympic Games but could not compete after suffering from the effects of malaria. Lynne Featherstone MP recognised the Paralympian’s efforts by awarding her a certificate of appreciation.
A week after the Ministerial visit I was back again to meet community leaders who wanted me to see how - with meagre resources - they have revived inclusive community sport. This time I was welcomed by song and dance from women living with HIV/AIDS who spoke passionately about how sport and traditional games have enabled them to live a positive life.
I then travelled to Soroti secondary school, about 5km from St Francis, where I was again fortunate enough to witness community sport in action. It’s a brilliant example of school to community links, led and organised by young leaders, working alongside community coaches. One of my personal highlights of the event was an unconventional wheelchair race between old and vulnerable adults!
In my role I’m fortunate enough to witness International Inspiration in action throughout the world, but to again see the impact it has had on so many young people in Uganda continues to bring home the power that sport has. It was also a chance to experience what else the programme can do in the future and how we can learn from the St Francis School.
The International Inspiration Programme in Uganda has been hugely successful. Working across the themes of access, empowerment and peace through high quality physical education and sport, some of its achievements to date are:
Policies - UK Sport’s International Development Team’s expertise working in partnership with Government, HEIs and civil society organisations in Uganda, has resulted in the Government developing and implementing an inclusive community sport strategy. An important element of the strategy is the national community coach education framework and training adapted from UK Sport’s unique International Community Coach Education Systems (ICES) intervention. More recently a policy on safeguarding and protecting children has been drafted and ready for adoption. Sport is also being used for marginalised children to access basic education.
Partnerships for delivery - 15 secondary schools designated sport schools in Uganda are linked to 15 schools in the UK. Support is also being given to teach high quality PE using the Youth Sport Trust’s TOP cascade teacher training model and resources, and to widen sport participation opportunities through youth sport leadership. IIP delivery agencies UK Sport, British Council and UNICEF have also fostered a first ever partnership working to deliver sport in Uganda between Government, civil society organisations, Olympic and Paralympic movements and sport federations.
Practitioners - over 1,800 practitioners and 300 young sport leaders have been trained.
International Inspiration is INclusive, INvolving and works to INspire the youth and excluded around the world, transforming lives through sport.