In our IMAGE project, it is already happening.
IMAGE brings together children and young people, disabled and able-bodied, of all abilities, in a programme of sports and activities. It takes places in schools and community groups.
The curriculum includes events specifically designed to enable able-bodied and disabled children to compete directly against each other. And, there are sports where people of all abilities and disabilities are united in one team. There are a mixture of indoor games, track & field events and cricket.
IMAGE works to change the image of physically disabled people and inspire social inclusion. It is a groundbreaking concept for previously disparate groups, bridging the gap between communities and breaking down barriers through sport for development.
IMAGE delivers a new world where disabled young people are on an equal footing with others in an everyday activity, creating a springboard for other areas of life.
Now run by Indiability, IMAGE began life at SKSN Institute, a boarding educational activity which is home to a large number of children with disabilities and young adults, in Rajasthan. SKSN is now the IMAGE Centre of Excellence. It was established as a project that would allow its graduating students to merge back into their communities, and help them to live independent, fulfilling lives.
'To be a catalyst for change in creating an integrated society where the disabled not only have general acceptance into the mainstream, and are able to fully participate at all levels, but are valued and respected for the perspective they bring and the innovation it drives.'
A network of after-school clubs is now established around Rajasthan, where children from a number of schools come together to learn and take part in sport side by side. IMAGE clubs usually run once a week during school term time. To increase competitiveness and interaction from participants and the broader community, all clubs come together at the end of the year for the Indiability Games, at which parents and the community are invited to watch and learn.
It is important that children feel that they are able to make their dreams become reality, and also that their communities treat them with dignity and respect.
Indiability has taken IMAGE events into the community, touching people from all walks of life, in cities, suburbs and villages. This will ensure that IMAGE will make a broader impact, promote inclusion and deliver benefits across all of India.
The clubs and the events have created supportive networks for both disabled and able-bodied alike. They provide an opportunity for both disabled children and able-bodied children to grow together. They provide opportunities for these children to discover their differences and similarities, develop greater understanding and create friendships.
The clubs and tournaments help educate society and we expect this to bring about greater integration in future. This will affect school admission and employment. Parents, and their communities, are encouraged to take part in events, supporting and celebrating in joint successes that bring people together.
IMAGE is constantly being improved so that its techniques can be used across the country to achieve the best results in communities. It has already expanded beyond the borders of Rajasthan. An ever-increasing number of young people are taking part in IMAGE as a positive outlet for development. There are very few opportunities for young people in India to feel proud of their achievements and take part in organised games.
Since the Commonwealth Games in India, there has been greater appetite for a variety of sports and a growing number of young athletes wishing to compete. Indiability wants to create a national impact with IMAGE - and has the experience to do just that.
2005: The first club was piloted with 195 disabled 8-12 year olds from SKSN Institute. This was matched by an equal number of able-bodied children from the local community, forming the SKSN IMAGE Club.
2011: 18 IMAGE clubs were operating across Rajasthan with a total of 1000 IMAGE members.
2012 onwards: IMAGE recognized a need to enhance its reach to the adult population in order to improve its influence and bring about real change. Under the mentorship of Magic Bus, it progressed to the community level, giving 13-18 year old IMAGE members the opportunity to deliver part of the Image program. This is providing them with a platform to establish themselves as leaders, and develop a broader community conscience. In particular, this approach allows the empowerment of IMAGE members with disabilities to give back to their communities, supports creating a positive image of the disabled, and a deeply needed pipeline of role models.
IMAGE is supported by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation