Wij Inholland: My personal adapted sports coach
For children with a disability, an active lifestyle is particularly important. That is why Sports Science students Mickey Pijl and Bas de Vries want to help them find a suitable, enjoyable sport. The fourth-year students at Inholland Haarlem have completed a pilot which they hope to improve in their own business during their next academic year.
The pilot is part of the European project Sport Empowers Disabled Youth. The project is an initiative to empower disabled children through sport by bringing supply and demand together. It makes these children stronger, in every sense of the word! Mickey and Bas want to introduce this method in the Netherlands.
Bas: ‘Disabled children wanting to take up a sport, and their families, face various barriers such as transport, finance and a lack of information of the sporting possibilities. We aim to remove those barriers by involving the appropriate bodies. Thus making sport accessible.’ Exercise is especially important for this target group, the two students explain. ‘Research shows that disabled children exercise far less than children without a disability.’ That can greatly influence the socio-emotional and physical development of these children.
Mickey: ‘We start by conducting an intake with interested children. We ask them what sports they would like to do and what is physically possible. Then we look for suitable options in the area and make an appointment to try the sport or sports out, together.’ Such intensive ‘matchmaking’ for children with a disability is not currently available anywhere, as it usually very time-consuming and therefore costly. However, involving Sports Science students allows Mickey and Bas to minimise these costs while also creating a learning opportunity for the students. Mickey: ‘Everything is done face to face. Students have a lot of freedom in how they approach the project. They may visit the parents, for instance, or visit children in a rehabilitation centre.’
Next year, the mission of Mickey and Bas is to improve the project so that they can effectively help more children. After graduating, they plan to develop the project into their own business. That is why they are currently learning the intricacies of business at the new Start Up Campus of Inholland Haarlem. Mickey: ‘Next year, as coordinators, we will bring Sports Science students and participants together and provide training to ensure a consistent quality. We will also look for grants or an organisation that is willing to support us. If we were to win the Wij Inholland award, we would like to put the prize towards that.’
The students have been nominated for the Wij Inholland award 2017. Wij Inholland offers students an opportunity to distinguish themselves with an innovative project. To be eligible, a project must be innovative in relation to one of the following themes: healthy, sustainable or creative. Other criteria require that the project is multidisciplinary, has an added value for the region and that it involves cooperating with a business, institution or municipality. The winning project group will receive help in implementing their project, such as promotional support or access to an extensive network of businesses in various sectors.