As part of our Special Features project we have great pleasure in introducing you all to Judo in Harmony Inclusion Programme from Italy. Below is a short bio on the organisation and some inspiring photographs.
Our adventure started in 2012 (2013), during a calm afternoon in our dojo in Buttapietra, VR, Italy. Luigina was judo coaching some kids when another mum stepped into the room and asked to talk to her. She asked whether it was possible for her child, Filippo, to participate in the judo lesson, because he seemed to be very attracted by all those judo games and exercises. But she immediately added that this could be difficult, as her child has just been diagnosed with an autistic disorder. It was the very first time Luigina and Claudio, both judo coaches in Verona, were asked to coach a SN kid, but they agreed and started this new adventure.
They spent a lot of time studying and learning about autism and special needs; they welcomed Filippo in their dojo and spent additional time with him in order to help him feel acquainted and comfortable with all the judo things and exercises. From then on they decided to open the door of their dojo to anyone that wanted to participate. With time, they met with other Charities that are involved in the proposal of different activities and opportunities for SN kids and their family’s in Verona, thus promoting positive social interactions and disability awareness.
Luigina and Claudio were so enthusiastic of this new project that they’ve been able to enthuse other people, and also other judo coaches to agree to help them as volunteers. Almost 6 years later, our Association, “Judo In Armonia Onlus”, was formally established; it has grown beyond expectations and is now coaching more than 30 young people with autism, aged 3 to more than 25 years old, twice a week in our dojo in Verona city center.
Nowadays, more than 12 people are donating their time, knowledge and abilities to this project as volunteers, and the amazing work of our organisation has been possible mainly because of their passion and hard and constant work. We’re constantly supported in our projects by a talented team of psychologists and paediatric neuro-psychiatrists, that decided to cooperate and work side by side with our organisation from the very beginning.
We’re also cooperating with other charities, such as “ANTS Onlus per l’Autismo” and “White Project Band”, in order support projects whose aim is to include special needs people both in local and national initiatives. Our charity is daily involved in projects and initiatives that promote social inclusion of people with special needs and their families; for instance, since 2015 we take part with some of our SN judokas in a judo summer training camp in Lignano (UD), together with more than 200 other young athletes. We’re also promoting training sessions for judo coaches in order to spread adaptive judo coaching in Italy. “Judo In Armonia Onlus” wants to be a positive supporter of those powerful values and ideas that sport can transmit through fun games and frequent exercises.
We chose to work together in harmony so that ideas such as respect, equal opportunities, courage, and perseverance can be spread around Italy and the World and reach as many people as possible.
Judo in Harmony Team
Please feel free to contact us @ Judoinarmonia@gmail.com