The physical activity entailed serves to strengthen your bones and muscles, and helps in making you feel better as a person. As a person with a disability, it is also very important for your health to stay active. Sport stimulates and improves physical and mental health.
Persons with disabilities often experience societal exclusion in different aspects of life. The stigma associated sees them missing out on community, educational and work life, which denies them opportunities necessary for healthy living, general well-being and social development. Sometimes they are considered incapable which results in inactivity and movement restricted beyond their disability. Sports can reduce the stigma connected to disability as it highlights skills and reduces focus on the disability.
Adaptive sports are designed for persons with disabilities. The Paralympic Movement offers various sporting opportunities for persons with disability. In Kenya, the Kenya National Paralympic Committee has sports federations for various disabilities; The Kenya Sports Association for the Mentally Handicapped (KSMH), Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Association of Kenya (WASAK), Cerebral Palsy Sports Association of Kenya (CPSAK) and Kenya Sports Association for the Visually Impaired. In Paralympic sport, categorization provides a structure to how competition should take place. The Kenya National Paralympics met their target of having more than 20 para-athletes participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. More than six para-athletes met the pre-qualification for the games which were held in Tunis at the World Para-Athletics Grand Prix. Kenya’s participation in this brought home 16 medals (two gold, six, silver and eight bronze).
According to the Act 14 of parliament, all persons with disabilities are entitled to the free use of recreational or sports facilities owned or operated by the Government. They are also entitled to participate in all national and international sports events. This Act provides for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities; to achieve equality of opportunity for persons with disabilities; to establish the National Council for Persons with Disabilities; and for connected purposes.
The importance of sports benefits especially for people with disabilities needs to be encouraged more, whether it is for recreation or competition. In a world where people are becoming more conscious of their health, regular participation in physical activity is widely accepted as an indicator of the quality of life. Awareness of the various sports available for people with disabilities needs to be emphasized so as to increase participation. “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there was only despair,” Nelson Mandela.