3 min

First Inclusive Sports Day

A Project by Students of the Master Degree Programme Social Work

First Inclusive Sports Day

The St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences and the Büro für Diversität (diversity office) of St. Pölten organised the first Inclusive Sports Day in the city on 17 June 2024. A total of 270 children with and without special needs attending elementary schools and centres for special education as well as adolescents and adults from diverse social organisations participated in the event at the Sportzentrum Niederösterreich. It was organised by and with the involvement of students of the master degree programme Social Work within the framework of the project “Nachbarschaft stärken – Gemeinschaft leben”.

Under the motto “Sport für Alle” (sports for all), the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences and the Büro für Diversität St. Pölten hosted the city’s first Inclusive Sports Day. People with and without disabilities had the opportunity to try different disciplines at nine stations by nine sports clubs – from basketball and tennis through football, climbing, and skateboarding to swingolf and motor activity training.

Sports and Inclusion

“I am very happy that so many people attended the event. This shows that there is a high level of readiness for the inclusion topic provided that the people are given the necessary space and format for its implementation”, says Sandra Mayrhofer, school social worker and student of the master degree programme Social Work. It was her who implemented the event within the framework of a study project. Mayrhofer herself is an active football player at the USV Neulengbach, so the twin topics of sports and inclusion are close to her heart: “There can be no doubt that framework conditions, financial means, and thinking patterns make inclusive projects more difficult. However, these barriers can be lowered, and we can all contribute to that. The Inclusive Sports Day is a first step in the right direction.”

In total, 270 children with and without special needs attending schools in St. Pölten – ASO St. Pölten, Daniel Gran Volkschule, and Gymnasium Josefstraße – as well as adolescent and grown-ups from various social institutions participated in the event held at the Sportzentrum Niederösterreich.

Important Inclusion Project for Togetherness

Heinz Hauptmann, City Councillor for Sports, is full of praise for the successful undertaking and emphasises the relevance of such an event as well: “Sports are an important element for our social lives and for peaceful co-existence and togetherness irrespective of background, level of education, needs, age, and gender.”

“Inclusion in sports is an important topic. It brings people with and without disabilities together and replaces reservations with joy and enthusiasm. Therefore, events such as this one are of major importance for raising people’s awareness for successful inclusion. I would like to thank the students for choosing inclusion as the topic of their master thesis and to cordially congratulate them on this great event. Thanks are also due to the organisations that participated and made this day a great success”, says Ulrike Königsberger-Ludwig, Provincial Councillor for Social Affairs.

“When diversity in sports is achieved from the outset, there is no room for prejudice to even develop. The common interest in sports is in the foreground, while differences recede to the background. Reservations are dissolved in a completely natural way, and new friendships can be forged. With that in mind, I hope that there will be many more sports events in St. Pölten that facilitate participation for all”, stresses Martina Eigelsreiter, Head of the Diversity Office of St. Pölten.

Strengthening Neighbourly Relations – Cultivating Community

The Inclusive Sports Day was organised within the framework of the project “Nachbarschaft stärken – Gemeinschaft leben“ (strengthening neighbourly relations – living in community) which is dedicated to the collaborative development of community projects in St. Pölten (together with citizens and other relevant players). Questions pertaining to good neighbourly relations and inclusive living are to be connected to, for example, healthcare and climate protection issues (e.g., joint gardening and cooking).
“As a university of applied sciences, we consider it as our social mission to actively promote and cultivate the principles of inclusion and diversity. It is important to us to generate a sustainable social impact and to ensure that all members of society can participate equally. We take this responsibility very seriously and make a continuous effort to create a more inclusive and just environment through projects such as the Inclusive Sports Day”, explains Michaela Moser, Project Head and UAS Lecturer.

Read more about the project “Nachbarschaft stärken – Gemeinschaft leben“:

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FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Moser Michaela

FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Michaela Moser

Lecturer Department of Social Sciences