The context for the project “Inclusion through sports for children with developmental disabilities” is demonstrated by World Health Organization’s numbers: 200 million people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the world face stigma and isolation. According to WHO people with ID have poorer health status, lower educational access, experience barriers in daily life, mainly in accessing health care and education. Meanwhile, research shows a strong correlation between participation in organized sports and a range of positive outcomes: individuals with ID experience improved social skills, self-confidence, self-determination, and independence (Weiss, J., Diamond, T., Demark, J., & Lovald, B. (2003).

Through our project, we want to give a new opportunity to children with intellectual disabilities to overcome isolation. Over 5,200 children and youth with and without intellectual disabilities from 55 cities located in Central Europe, Southern Europe and the Balkans will participate in sports competitions that will encourage social inclusion and will help improve the cognitive, social and motor abilities in children with intellectual disabilities (ID), aged 6-12.

The project aims to encourage children with and without intellectual disabilities to learn and play together, in this way helping those with ID in developing essential skills through activities and team games, to promote inclusion in the community and among youth without intellectual disabilities and to help family members of those with ID in regaining trust in their children’s abilities.

Over the course of three years, from January 2021 to December 2023, the European project “Inclusion through sports for children with developmental disabilities”, coordinated and managed by Motivation Romania Foundation in partnership with Special Olympics (SO) Romania, SO Iceland, SO Slovakia, SO Bosnia and Herzegovina, SO Montenegro, SO Europe Eurasia Foundation and Poznan University of Physical Education, will facilitate the organization of competitions for team sports, such as football and basketball games.

The outcomes cannot be achieved without the participation of organizations from the target countries. Each organization brings a specific set of expertise, local outreach and project delivery capabilities. The findings of the project will be shared across the SO network in 52 countries in Europe/Eurasia.

The project “Inclusion through sports for children with developmental disabilities” is financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, representing the contribution of the three countries for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe.

The overall main objectives of the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation aim for the reduction of economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor countries and 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. The three donor countries cooperate closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The donors have provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014. For the period 2014-2021, the EEA and Norway Grants amount to €2.8 billion.