Debbie Van Biesen (36yr) is a Post-Doctoral researcher at the KU Leuven, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Research Unit Adapted Physical Activity and Psychomotor Rehabilitation Sciences, since April 2014.
The Research Unit is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the “International Research and Development Centre for Classification of Athletes with Intellectual Impairments”. The specific focus of her research project is on the relationship between cognition and sports performance.
Her main expertise is on the cognitive capacity and motor performance of athletes with intellectual impairment. She published 13 studies on the role of cognition in sports performance. She obtained a Master’s degree in Physical Education at Ghent University in 2004, with a specialization in physical activity, fitness and health; and a European Master Degree in Adapted Physical Activity at KU Leuven in 2005.
She is currently the coordinator of the EU Sport Collaborative Partnership entitled: IDEAL: Intellectual Disability, and Equal opportunities for Active and Long-term participation in Sport”. The consortium in this project includes eight European Research institutions and three International Sport Federations (INAS, International Paralympic Committee and Special Olympics Europe).
Content: In an IDEAL world, everyone has the right to participate on an equal basis with others in society. In sport, more and more participation opportunities arise for people with a disability, and unprecedented media interest is generated, particularly by Special Olympics & Paralympic Games. However, the reality is that the majority of young people with an intellectual disability (ID) still find it hard to access sport (European Commission White Paper on Sport, 2010). They have fewer opportunities for full and equal participation, and limited opportunity to specialise/excel in the activity of their choice. Being active is a public health priority focus, but having an ID is related to lower general activity rates, and a vulnerability factor for poor health. In this keynote, the IDEAL project will be presented, which aims to address these inequalities through increasing the quality of sport interventions and structures, empowering young people with ID and improving their physical and mental health.
The IDEAL project is a collaboration between seven institutions specialised in ID-research across the EU, in collaboration with the local and global disability sport organizations, such as Special Olympics, INAS, and the International Paralympic Committee. Half way through the 3yr project, the first phase of the research is finalised, in which the current situation related to ID-sport participation has been inventorised. The results of this inventory phase will be presented, with a broad perspective, focusing on the micro, meso and macro level.
Best Regards & Welcome!