First Inclusive Mini Duo Marathon: Valuing the strengths of children with disabilities

On Saturday, May 21, the First Inclusive Mini Duo Marathon Inter Promotions of Primary Education was held in the city of Trujillo, Peru, called: “A La Madre Con Amor 2022” (To the Mother with Love 2022). This event was organized by the Peruvian Sports Institute La Libertad and the Basic Special Education Resource Center La Libertad “CREBE”. Among the partners that participated in the event, 3Love was present with the donation of prizes, gift bags, children’s short stories and other gifts for the 150 participating children.

 

The purpose of this sporting event was to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities, so that they can work as a team with children who do not have disabilities. In this interview with Isabel Espinoza Campos, Director of CREBE, the teacher tells us about the objectives and results of this First Inclusive Mini Duo Marathon.

 

How did the idea of organizing the First Inclusive Mini Duo Marathon come up and what was the main objective of this event?

 

The idea came up while talking with the head of the Peruvian Sports Institute in the La Libertad region. We were looking for a way to show the community that having a disability is not something that limits or excludes you. So we thought it would be good to show an inclusive student with a non-inclusive student. We also came up with the idea that we could do this for Mother’s Day, considering that the mother and the child are a duo until the child is born and even beyond birth, because we are always thinking about our mother when something happens to us or even though we are adults we always think about going to see our mother and if she is not alive, a prayer is made to her. That was the idea and we materialized it in a way that allowed us to integrate institutions such as 3Love and other NGOs that contributed to make this possible, because we are state institutions, without a budget. So we invited many schools, especially we focused on the urban-marginal areas of Trujillo. The schools that attended were very enthusiastic at the stadium and encouraged the children. And what we liked was that these kids participated even if they were not from the same institution. We were able to integrate them and we were able to get the community to see them and let them know that as a society we must add up. In fact, that was the objective: to show what can be done with the strengths of a person with a disability.

 

In terms of results, how many children and how many educational institutions participated in this marathon?

 

Thirty-five institutions and around 150 children participated. The schools came with their teachers and advisors. The parents were very enthusiastic, both inclusive and non-inclusive children. It was very nice. We awarded the children according to different criteria, but basically the criteria was to have participated hand in hand or with an inclusive child and the time they had taken. Then thank God we had the prizes that 3Love gave us, which included a basket of groceries that the winning children were going to take to their mom, as a token that they made an effort and that they won. Each couple got their basket. And we also had gifts that came from other donations, so there were quite a few prizes.

 

Regarding the children with disabilities who participated, what type of disability did they have?

 

Our goal was to have many children with different disabilities. There were children with autism spectrum disorder, children with intellectual disabilities who were about 60%, there were also two children with physical disabilities due to mild infantile cerebral palsy and there were also two children with hearing disabilities.

 

By pairing children with disabilities and non-disabled children to work together as a team, what do you think is the learning for the whole society?

 

That when a person is experiencing a challenge, the responsibility of the human group and the social group that surrounds him/her is to ensure that the goals that have been set are achieved, regardless of the social or disability differences that may exist. The important thing here is to join together. The events and activities we do are always oriented to that, society has to understand that we are a trio: teachers, students and parents together we join in favor of a student who is experiencing a challenge, whatever it may be. In this context, we do it in a sporting, intellectual or social way, we look for alternatives.

 

What types of comments or feedback did you receive from the children or parents of the children who participated in the event?

 

The kids were completely happy to participate, because in most events, when they participate they are measuring strength, they are basically measuring the physical skills that they may have and they are rewarded for that. So these kids are usually left out of the awards. In contrast, in this event, participation was rewarded. Everyone who participated got a prize. They were also valued, they were motivated with chants, it was very spectacular, the press that was there, the workers of CREBE and IPD, and our allies were there, telling them “You can do it. Come on!”. There were kids who could not run, because the stadium is big, but they reached the finish line, the important thing is that they reached the finish line. And also the other aspect was that the little fellow who was next to him, encouraged him and said “Come on, come on!”. For example, there was a child with Down Syndrome and it is characteristic in these children that they have heart problems, so they almost do not exercise, but this child reached the finish line and ran with his mother included, that is, there was no duo but a trio, because in the first 200 meters he ran with his partner, but as he was already feeling down, the mother got into the field, she also pulled him by the other hand and together they reached the finish line.

 

The Mini Duo Marathon was covered by radio, television and press media in Trujillo. Why do you think this event attracted so much media attention?

 

For two reasons. One, because it is the first event we do with these characteristics. And then, the press is always watching the activities that CREBE and IPD do, because they know that we promote inclusion.

 

What advice would you give to other special educational institutions that would also like to organize events that promote the inclusion of children with disabilities?

 

Let them look for allies and join in, because in inclusion, I take the motto of Civil Defense: it is “Everyone’s task”. We cannot work alone. Inclusion implies just that: we all come together to achieve goals. We are all taking a first step to make more events happen. I am seeing that the Special Basic Education Centers and other institutions are also with this idea. And for the month of September we are thinking of doing a Tri Marathon, where three children will participate: a boy, a girl and an inclusive child. It will be with the secondary level. We expect more children to participate, we will look for more allies and I know that we will continue to count on 3Love, because they are all heart.

 

I would especially like to thank 3Love, because they not only had an economic presence, but also there were allies who were with us throughout the process: they had very nice gift bags made, they were there for the shopping and the delivery of the baskets to cheer up the children. In other words, they were there every step of the way. Thank you very much to 3Love, God bless you and may you continue to support us.

 

By: Juan Carlos Ugarelli

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