The Sports and Rehabilitation Centre, Budapest
A late writing of Bengt Nirje about the sport as a pedagogical tool for intellectually disabled persons:
"I do not think that professors or polevaulters or goalies or you are "normal" as we are all individuals and different and ourselves. But we desire and mostly share normal conditions of life so we can develop, express ouirselves and enjoy life. To enjoy, benefit from and control the conditions of life is basic for good development – have a normal day, a normal week, a normal year and flow of seasons, normal life sequences and their flow of changes.
Time flows eternally - seconds and minutes and hours, not only in sports - years and decades: a normal basic part of our lives.
Sports are in some forms and extent part of our life and time and memories.
Lets see how the Normalization Principle applies to sports for persons with intellectual disabilities, without going into depths:
1. To share a normal rythm of the day – to be up and around, have fresh air, some periods outdoors – a good "constitutional", play or brisk walks after school or work or before going to bed.
2 To have a normal rythm of the week – when one or some of the afternoons or evenings, parts of the leisure times, can be spent on preferred sports for training or club actities, and sometimes the weekends for special activities or competitions and times with the team.
3. Enjoying the normal rythm of the year – the changing seasons bringing with them variation in sports, equipments, clothes and athmosphere, spring, summer, autumn, winter – indoors and outdoors.
4 Experiencing the rythm of the age changes – childhood, schoolage, being adolescent and growing adult, being adult, becoming senior. Preferences in sport changes with age; schoolage is a great period for trying out new sports, a preparing period bringing out preferences. Later training programs, club activities, competitions, travels may offer more experiences and play an important part in personality developments. Those developments bring with them increased knowledge and understanding of sports, of rules and customs, "the rites and rituals" of each sport, which increases the camaraderie. The shared experiences give commitments and "club spirit"; being able to follow news and TV-events bring national results and sharing experiences with others, family, friends, neighbors and "the general public".
Sports benefit the learning processes by offering visible impovements, pleasures of motivation and and results seen by others. The various sports and their social environments widen the realistic orientation, bringing social skills and more situations available for enjoyment.