‘Skiing Dreams’ to encourage sport for disabled people in Russia
The innovative programme “Skiing Dreams” is now being discussed by national experts.
Professional leaders from the medical, sports adaptation, charities and legislative communities are joining the fight to make sport more accessible to disabled people. “Skiing Dreams” should not only help with their rehab but also be one of the main instruments used in improving their socialisation, according to specialists who sit on the programme’s expert council.
The main problem is not that disabled people find it difficult to get to accessible venues but that they simply have nowhere to go, says Nina Gross, Director of the “Grossko” Children’s Rehabilitation and Sports Centre and Head of Physical Culture and Disabled Children’s Social Adaptation at the Federal Physical Culture and Sports Centre. According to Gross, there are hardly any sports clubs that cater for teenagers and adults. “However, the introduction of adapted alpine skis and rollerblades thanks to “Skiing Dreams” has been fantastic as it’s so important to increase the range of sports available to disabled people”, she says.
The first meeting of the programme’s expert council was held on 18 May in the Federation’s Public Chamber to discuss the creation of a national system to secure greater disabled access to therapeutic sports. The main intention is to get as many disabled people as possible to talk to specialists who will then choose a suitable sport for them to take up. Doctors say that regular exercise can have a positive therapeutic effect.
“Medicine has to go hand-in-hand with physical culture”, says Vladimir Shioshvili, Head of Physiotherapy at the Scientific and Practical Centre of Paediatric Psychoneurology. “I lead a group at the Centre which carries out assessments to find a particular sport that’s suitable for each of our children. We use a modern approach, organising medical support for the patient not only before and after but during physical exercise. As part of “Skiing Dreams”, we undertake studies that help determine the level and intensity of effort that’s appropriate for each individual patient”.
The programme is gradually being rolled out in various Russian cities and there are plans in the near future to extend it to the federal level. That means that “Skiing Dreams” will need to bring in regular State funding, says Svetlana Volovets, Director of the L. I. Shvetsova Scientific and Practical Centre for the Medical and Social Rehabilitation of Disabled People. “Incorporating this type of rehab within existing State services would be of considerable help to both the organisers and those taking part in the programme”, said Volovets.
The “Skiing Dream” programme is aimed at children and adults with a variety of health problems such as children’s cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, visual and hearing impediments. Those taking part can engage in effective rehab and socialising activities through skiing and rollerblading.
The programme’s founders are the actor Sergey Belogolovtsev and his wife Natalya. Having exhausted every possible treatment option for their son Yevgeny’s cerebral palsy, they one day did something different by trying him on a pair of skis. After a couple of weeks, it was clear that skiing was having a positive therapeutic effect on the child, thereby demonstrating the activity’s value in improving the rehab of children suffering from cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
The programme was launched in January 2014 with the help of a team of volunteers based at five ski resorts in and around Moscow. This form of rehab has, in its time, helped in improving the health of thousands of disabled children and adults from all over Russia. A specially developed skiing technique devised by expert instructors accelerates the treatment, rehab and socialisation of disabled people.