My EVS encounter with ABLED

Hi, I’m Bruno, 28, from Portugal. In this post I will share my experience meeting a Paralympic team in Kraków and having fun playing Boccia with students from a special school.

On the 22nd of April, me and other volunteers agreed to meet with physically disabled athletes who had just finished the marathon happening that day. We had the opportunity to interview the winner of the race, Rafał Szumiec. Even though I had to wait for a transcript of the recorded interview to actually know his replies to our questions (was held in polish), it was very empowering to peer into the mind of a person who suffered a crushing blow that would defeat lesser men, but not him… the finishing strike was his to deliver.

Rafał was a professional cyclist before the accident which robbed him of mobility from the waist down. So this was a man with a love for competitive sport, who was driven to excel and not resign to 2nd places. This defining features remained unchanged after the accident.

This strong willed man shared with us that his main concern was how to rebound quickly and return to competitive sport. He adapted to the whims of fate and got proficient in other sport modalities, namely handbike, mono-ski and wakeboard. He’s since participated in several competitions all over Europe and co-founded VeloAktiv, along with Katarzyna Rogowiec, a sports training group for Paralympic athletes, where mutual support, camaraderie and tough training sessions take place.

The fact that he achieved 1st place in Cracovia Marathon was not at all surprising, given his dedication to what he does. I saw in him a man that has come to terms with the fragility and unpredictability of the human condition, but nonetheless able to draw forth from a soul not at all diminished, but forged by fire.

Sometime after I had the chance to participate in a school event where volunteers and special needs students came together to play Boccia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boccia). It was certainly fun to play in 2 vs 2, without any need to “hold back”, since these students were well versed in the game and also due to this being a sport where mobility is not quite so important as intuitive understanding of the physics at play. In this way, with assistance from another person and with the aid of a special launching ramp, the student can give instructions regarding positioning of said ramp and finally “throw it” where intended. One of the students, Konrad, was particularly good at it and it was a joy to be paired with him.

All in all, I believe everybody got something out of the experience. Games in general are (mostly) always a great way to bring people together, foster co-operation and realize individual contribution as complementary to team effort in the pursuit of common objectives.

Due to the limitations these students have to live with, there can be a tendency towards isolation from the “outside world”, so I’m sure they appreciate opportunities when they can interact with people other than their immediate circle and transcend interpersonal barriers with something as simple as a game of Boccia.

How to live a memorable day at the ?Farm of Life?

Article written by Ilde Navarrete

In the next few lines I will describe what I experienced during my day at the Farm of Life the 3rd October 2015. Little did I know before about the picnic, only that we paid a visit to know their wonderful and brand-new facilities and that my friends Alicia and Berkay assisted during summer there. Moreover it is one of the hosting organizations that IB Polska is cooperating with. Helped by the representatives of IB Polska and many of my volunteer friends, I took part in the welcoming picnic the people at the farm organized for everybody who was interested. The event lasted since the early morning to the afternoon.

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The farm is designed to host autistic residents, as well as to serve as a venue for different workshops and activities for those who live at their homes. Other than workshop rooms, residential spaces, and gymnastic halls, the farm also has a huge extension of green areas where animal huts are located. During the couple of meetings we attended, we organized additional activities for the families visiting the picnic, I was assigned to prepare a gymkhana with scoring games and a mini-marathon to somehow inaugurate the new green path that the farm offers. It was for me a great pleasure to count with the support of some of my workmates and friends who showed great interest in helping together with the care of our IB Polska coordinators and farm staff. It is important to mention that we were also helped by volunteers from Ukraine who were present during the picnic. Other than our activities, volunteers also prepared some delicious food treats such as Spanish gazpacho and potato omelets or French croissants.

Our volunteers? gymkhana included a set of challenges based on the different continents (jumping as an Australian kangaroo, hitting balloon animals at an African safari, the American gold Rush or painting in the European Renaissance, as examples). Families and other visitors were collecting scores through team work in all of the games that volunteers led. In the end of the day, the best scoring participants plus the people participating in the mini-marathon received very nice presents on behalf of the farm that everybody took with smiles on their faces and the purest feeling of pride. It is important also to point out the interest of visitors and residents of the farm to participate in our proposal of activities and know more about the activities organized by Internationaler Bund Polska.

So this was the result of joining together a bunch of talented volunteers plus coordinators, tasty food, entertaining activities, and the effort of people who really care about what they are doing. It made us able to enjoy an amazing life learning experience for which I still thank to each and every participant.

 

 


Here you can find more details about Fundacja Wspólnota Nadziei and about Farm of life (Farma Życia):

Biuro Fundacji Wspólnota Nadziei
Więckowice, ul. Ogrodowa 17,
32-082 Bolechowice

http://www.farma.org.pl/