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Sports and disability: sport as a tool for empowerment

If you type, the word "empowerment" in your search engine bar, various definitions will appear in the first results. Among many, a particularly effective and concise one is that of a well-known dictionary: "In pedagogy and social psychology, [empowerment is] the process of regaining self-awareness, of one's own potential and of one's own action".

The definition is even more appropriate when you think of the combination of sport and disability, and sporting activity as the key to opening the cage in which a pathology or an accidental event have imprisoned physical and mental potential.

Sport as a tool for empowerment
Sport, by its very nature, is a driver of people's awareness, an intelligent tool that can enhance individuals by focusing on the distinctive qualities that they have developed over time. This is why it is important to focus on the therapeutic and inclusive power of sport, especially when considering the issue of disability. Over the years, the weight and media coverage of sports activities and competitions dedicated to disabled athletes have increased exponentially, increasing the sensitivity but also the interest in this subject.
Sport is inclusiveness
Athletes such as former F1 driver Alex Zanardi, now also a para-cyclist, and Paralympic fencer Bebe Vio, have earned important covers and occupied prominent television spaces, becoming luminous stars of a flourishing movement, full of characters and stories to tell. Alongside these illustrious examples, there are also sporting events and undertakings which, although less famous, remain shining examples of how sport represents the ideal springboard for jumping higher than difficulties, beyond pure results.

Giorgia's podium

March 2018. Riccione hosted the Italian Swimming Championships Uisp, a two-day event that attracted young athletes aged 7 to 13 years from all over Italy. The water of the swimming pools of the Swimming Stadium had not stopped for a second: more than a thousand young swimmers and more than forty sports clubs challenged each other to the sound of strokes in a carousel of pools to turn the head. Many medals were awarded to the children on the podium, future swimming champions.
Among these, the eleven-year-old Giorgia Coruzzi, who in the 100 meters freestyle far excelled over her peers by winning the gold medal.

Though it might have seemed like a normal amateur race, where winners and losers are decreed, the result was not trivial at all: it pierced the scoreboard; it left everyone breathless and gasping.

Giorgia went down to the pool with a prosthesis on her left leg, with which she had lived since she was 18 months old, when that limb was amputated. However, this did not prevent her from practicing the sport she liked the most, not only with those in her same condition, but also with young healthy girls. Like in Riccione, where she outswam far more than one athlete, winning a medal that, even in a non-competitive context, is filled with symbolic value.

A small-big story, this one of Giorgia, one of those hidden gems that, sometimes, amateur sport can give: we do not know if the podium in Riccione is the beginning of a fairytale even more beautiful or will remain a magnificent story that will never be repeated. Only time will tell, but the result is on full display, to show everyone how sport can be the right key to free those processes of self-improvement that each of us has within himself.

Being a champion does not only mean being first on the podium
Confidence in one's own potential, the awareness that one can always be up to the task, that one can have one's say in every context even when life has decided to put obstacles in our way that seem impossible to overtake. Perhaps more than a bunch of words in a dictionary, Giorgia's podium is the best definition of empowerment.

A stimulus for those who approach sports and for those who already practice them, sometimes thinking to give up.

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