Sporting together allows children the opportunity to grow up with one another. Yet for many children with disabilities, this is not possible. Consequently, this puts them at an early 2-0 disadvantage when compared to their peers. But thanks to Frame Running Kids, from now on they can join in. This is an initiative of the Stichting het Gehandicapte Kind (The Foundation for Disabled Children).
Meeting up with friends on the sports field. Attending sports practice wearing a club uniform. And enjoying potato chips with teammates in the cafeteria after the match. That kind of camaraderie is part and parcel of sports as well as growing up together. In this way, children not only acquire many of the skills essential in life, but it also blurs the lines between those with a disability and those with none.
Loneliness is the greatest handicap
However, reality is quite different. Children with disabilities very often are literally on the sidelines. For instance, cheering on their classmates. They are mere spectators who do not join in. They do not belong to the sports club where their peers interact and share those important life experiences. Consequently, for many children, their greatest handicap isn’t their disability or their wheelchair, but rather loneliness.
Fleur is 11. She has learning disabilities and autism. And she’s hypermobile. Running is not something she can do. She would often accompany her little brother to the athletics track. That was until she stepped onto the Frame Runner for the first time. Fleur has since joined her little brother’s athletics club for herself.
Taking part with three-wheeled running frames
Now, Frame Running Kids is changing this. The ‘Frame Runner’ is a sort of three-wheeled running bike that allows disabled children to run as well. The Foundation for Disabled Children is working to ensure that this possibility is made available at as many sports clubs as possible. Thus, the foundation will loan the Runners to the club. Are there enough children willing to participate? In such cases, the foundation helps with the purchase by providing financial assistance.
And yet this will not guarantee success. Many governing bodies and athletics coaches (often volunteers) lack the experience of joint sports participation between children with and without disabilities. A further obstacle to this is the lack of wheelchair access at many clubs. Similarly, many clubs don’t often know exactly how to naturally involve children in club parties such as pancake night or Christmas parties. This all requires a long-term effort. For this reason, we are training professional Advisers on Co-sporting. These consultants will train the clubs to improve their practices. Similarly, children with disabilities will be paired with their peers. In this way, they can train together and join in with fun activities.