Vision for the Development Cooperation of the Danish Sports Organisation for the Disabled (Parasport Danmark)
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Denmark ratified in 2009, states, in its Article 30, that signatory nations must ensure access for people with disabilities to practice sports.
The Danish Sports Organisation for the Disabled (Parasport Danmark, Parasport Danmark) was founded as an independent nationwide set-up in 1971, following the formation of the first disability sports associations in the country in the 1950s. Accordingly, Denmark has ample experiences to build upon in the effort to enhance capacity and conduct advocacy in the field of sports in developing countries. Indeed the whole organisational structure of sports in Denmark provides an instructive example of democracy.
The mission statement of Parasport Danmark establishes the aim of disseminating knowledge of disabled sports in developing countries. Thus, Danish ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is in agreement with the basic principles of Parasport Danmark.
The mission statement also expresses Parasport Danmark’s determination to get involved in developing countries. This springs from first-hand understanding of situations faced by persons with disabilities around the globe, in Denmark as well as in developing countries. The intention is to use sports actively to improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities.
Notwithstanding this wider perspective, it must be stressed that specific opportunities to practice sports should take centre stage in this endeavour. This will serve to highlight that persons with disabilities have valuable human resources for society to invest in, both in terms of education and employment. In addition, the UN Convention signals the importance of integrating children and young people with disabilities into physical education in the school system.
The above is also subscribed to by the International Paralympic Committee, which sets store on facilitating sports for all persons with disabilities, while advancing organisational development as a path to personal development through physical exercise for all persons within this target group in developing countries.
To provide substance to Parasport Danmark’s contribution to that effect, the organisation has designated a Development Cooperation Committee. Against the background of a series of completed activities and the committee’s progress so far, this has resulted in the formulation of a new vision for the work ahead, as set out below.
Parasport Danmark is committed to helping to implement the principles enshrined in Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Parasport Danmark wishes to set the stage for the development of widely-publicised high-quality sports opportunities for person with disabilities in selected developing countries. Parasport Danmark will work for persons with disabilities gaining access to physical exercise, seeking to ensure that such activities take root organisationally, undergo continuous improvement and become well known in each country.
Parasport Danmark’s work will always be based on individual partner countries’ capacities, specialisations and needs.
Through strategic partnerships, Parasport Danmark seeks to motivate other organisations to involve aspects of sports in their work, whenever this is feasible and beneficial.
Parasport Danmark’s strategy charts a course of engagement in development cooperation on the basis of experiences gained by being involved in projects and partnership in a number of countries since 2004. Accordingly, the strategy closely matches current resources and development policy commitments within Parasport Danmark.
The intention is to ensure a proper match between our visions, ambitions and realistic options.
This strategy revolves around the five core issues in Parasport Danmark’s development cooperation at present.
These issues also correspond with the strategic areas of interventions of the Development Cooperation Committee in the coming years. Under the heading of each issue, we seek to address significant questions, such as: Where and how do we want to work? How will we draw attention to our work? How do we develop our methods? And how do we raise the quality of our cooperation?
1. Selection of countries and project modalities
Parasport Danmark’s Development Cooperation Committee wishes to support activities in up to three countries at a time. In addition to our requirements regarding geographical location, we also want activities to be unfolding at a variety of development stages, i.e. our portfolio at any time should encompass projects that are being designed, implemented as well as consolidated.
Moreover, Parasport Danmark prefers its projects to be based on a diversity of modalities and partnerships. On the ground, this means they should address different types of target group and make use of a range of methods. This serves to ensure that Parasport Danmark is being constantly challenged as regards its working methods and knowledge, thus optimising our opportunities to generate learning in order to substantiate our continued commitment to development cooperation.
Parasport Danmark’s current work already reflects this strategic aspiration.
2. Types of cooperation and strategic partnership
Over the years, Parasport Danmark has gained experience of cooperating with fellow Danish as well as with international disability organisations around activities in developing countries. Such joint labour fosters synergy and expands our organisation’s scope for action. At the same time, it gives us a wider perspective and deeper insights. Accordingly, we want to continue to play a prominent role in cooperation with other disability organisations engaged in developing countries.
Parasport Danmark is keen to contribute its expertise on disabled sports. Cooperation to this effect will focus primarily on ensuring that the development potential of disabled sports is also utilised in development projects implemented by other organisations.
3. Drawing attention to our work
Parasport Danmark’s development cooperation must be widely known within our own ranks, including our members, as well as among partners and sponsors.
Specifically, this calls for stepping up efforts to disseminate our work, e.g. by making sure that field visits to projects result in articles for our website and members’ magazine. We would also like to offer our services as public speakers inside and outside Parasport Danmark, and we will keep in mind how and when to use major sports events as platforms for our information work.
Parasport Danmark enjoys long-standing cooperation with Danish firms acting as our sponsors. Upon agreement with our Board, we shall take advantage of our development cooperation to draw attention to the vast range of our work.
4. Methods and quality
Parasport Danmark sets store on delivering high-quality outputs and on counting on the necessary volunteers. Accordingly, we strive to build a staff group of qualified and committed volunteers who can contribute to the design, implementation and consolidation of our interventions, among other ways by ensuring their participation in relevant courses and meetings, both in the professional field of disabled sports and of development cooperation.
In order to optimise quality, Parasport Danmark will also develop teaching aids and methods. We want to learn from other development organisations, from sports-related organisations and from our own network. Accordingly, we shall begin to systematically collect materials and methods of relevance to our work.
5. Developing Parasport Danmark’s own potentials
Our cooperation with organisations in developing countries is usually both inspiring and motivating. There are plenty of professional, educational and personal challenges involved in taking part in such projects. Ideally, this is reflected within and adds value to Parasport Danmark’s internal organisation, i.e. among employees and volunteers. Development cooperation often acts as a driving force producing startling new realisations and perspectives on Parasport Danmark’s work.
Parasport Danmark’s Development Cooperation Committee has the ambition of passing on all such realisations and perspectives to others.
Parasport Danmark’s Board has discussed and approved this vision and strategy at its session on 19 Jan 2012