Social entrepreneurship for inclusive sports and leisure
SPORTS INC. aims to develop a learning programme that gives (prospective) entrepreneurs, business owners and managers from the sports and leisure sector, as well as civil society organisations, working with and for people with disabilities, the knowledge, skills and competences to facilitate people with disabilities or special needs.
The project idea is related to the EU Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030. According to this document, people with disabil-ities constitute 25 percent of the total European population. Despite the progress of the last few years, they still face considerable barriers in access to education, employment and recreation activities, and have a higher risk of social exclusion. The covid-19 pandemic has amplified the obstacles and inequalities.
In order to promote their participation as citizens, it is vital to highlight the potential of people with disabilities
and special needs, promote an open and welcoming environment, and to help them find their place in the various fields of life. The emphasis must be on developing their autonomy and reinforcing their self-confidence and self-esteem through cultural, sports and recreational activities.
In line with the trends to be more socially responsible and generate a social impact, more and more providers of sports and leisure activities are starting to design inclusive offers. In fact, in a society where consumers are increasingly aware of social causes, a significant part of them expects that brands and companies meet these expec-tations. More socially aware consumers, in combination with an ageing population, creates opportunities for the sports and (active) leisure sector to design products and services with a positive impact on society.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
However, there is a considera-ble lack of knowledge regarding how to design and organise them appropriately for this particular target group. Existing and prospective entrepreneurs need encouragement and support in order to start new businesses or adjust the existing ones. They need to understand the customer needs and market trends, learn from best practices, and network with fellow social entrepreneurs.
They also need to be able to fully understand the implica-tions of such a service and/or product offer, i.e. the concept of what it means to be disabled or have special needs, and how this affects participation in these type of activities. Civil society organisations that work with and for people with disabilities and special needs need to extend their compe-tences in the area of (social) entrepreneurship in order to fully support their members in their efforts to start their own business or to provide employment opportunities.
SPORTS INC. aims to develop a learning programme that gives (prospective) entrepreneurs, business owners and managers from the sports and leisure sector, as well as civil society organisations, working with and for people with disabilities, the knowledge, skills and competences to imagine, design, develop, implement and market a service adapted to the specific needs and circumstances of people with disabilities or special needs, either by turning around their existing business or creating a new (social) enterprise. Through sharing and promotion activities, SPORTS INC. will also help achieve improved communication and coopera-tion among education centres, organisations supporting people with special needs, and those supporting social entrepreneurship, including the project partner organisations.
SPORTS INC. is a European project funded by Erasmus+. Partners participating in the consortium are:
• Commitmentplanet – Associação (Portugal) www. commitmentplanet-associacao.pt/;
• Eolas S.L. (Spain) https://eolas.es;
• Learning Detours V.A. Ltd (Cyprus) www.learning-detours. com;
• Association Ergon for the deaf (Italy) http://ergon4deaf.org/;
• Vienna Association of Education Volunteers (Austria) www. vaev.at;
• ACES Europe (www.aceseurope.eu).