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Inclusive Olympics to promote sport among disabled schoolchildren in Marseille

In Marseille, 300 middle school students took part this Monday in the first edition of the “Ulisiades”, their own Olympic Games, sporting events mixing students with disabilities – mainly autistic disorders – and able-bodied students.

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Inclusive Olympics to promote sport among disabled schoolchildren in Marseille

In Marseille, 300 middle school students took part this Monday in the first edition of the “Ulisiades”, their own Olympic Games, sporting events mixing students with disabilities – mainly autistic disorders – and able-bodied students. And it was “tarpin bien” (super good) according to Kelian, 14 years old.

These “Ulisiades” were born from the “Ulis” system, for Localized Unit for Educational Inclusion, a program in certain establishments in France which allows these students to be better integrated into classes, with a timetable adapted to their disability. often kept apart because they suffer from autistic disorders or cognitive function disorders.

At the start of the 2023 school year, there were 10,272 Ulis, including between 13 and 14 children each, out of the 59,650 schools in France, according to data from the Ministry of National Education. Each unit is supervised by a specialized teacher, like Laurent Zaffran for that of the Marseilleveyre college, at the origin of these new type of Olympics.

Teaching French and maths, this amateur rugby player wanted to “use sport as a vector of inclusion” for his students with disabilities and to promote physical activity among these young people “often more confined by screens”, who “do not do not dare to practice outside of school hours. To organize the event, it therefore joined forces with SMUC (Stade Marseille Université Club), which created its disabled sports section in July 2023.

“We already welcome disabled people in certain disciplines, but at the request of the disabled sports committee we created this section which, for the moment, only supports projects like these ulisiades,” says Noé Bérenger, the president of this new branch of the club. The arrival of the Olympic flame in Marseille on May 8 and the organization of the Games allowed them to have the event financed by the Ministry of Sports. For this first edition, 300 students, from 6th to 3rd grade, from 15 colleges in Marseille, gathered in the Jean-Bouin stadium, in the south of the city.

Under the May sun, after an opening 1,000 meters, run by the teachers supervising the Ulis classes, the children first gather for a musical warm-up. Each class then moves from activity to activity: running, throwing a ball in a hoop, playing with rugby balls, etc.

Jules, 14, suffering from Asperger's syndrome, is delighted with this "party" which allows him to "play sports, have fun", with his friends. A 4th grade student at Marseilleveyre College, he was tasked with writing an article on this event for his establishment's newspaper, and he dreams of one day becoming a major reporter.

Elyes, his able-bodied comrade, confirms that meeting people with disabilities requires “adapting”. But he is delighted to “give them strength” in what they do.

For these Olympics, adaptation involves “clear and simple instructions for each activity” and a “need for more supervision”, explains Noé Berenger: thus, over the day, there is almost one supervisor for every three students .

This objective of accessibility is also reflected in the inclusive sports clubs invited to the event: “We take the time, we also experiment with our approach, based on feedback,” explains the president of the Canaille Skateboard Club, Karim Chérif. But “if they have fun and don’t get hurt, I’ve won everything.”

Ulis student in 5th grade at the André-Malraux college in Marseille, Raphaël, 14, is indeed “very happy to be here to go out and play sports” with all his friends. And at 3:30 p.m., like all his comrades, he participated in the medal ceremony.

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