This exchange program in UK was a very valuable experience for me.
I participated in this program as a practitioner. I am working to promote social participation of person with disability through sports in Japan. Though the knowledge exchange and discussion with the researchers and the person with disability is very important, it is always difficult to have a positive relationship with researchers in different fields, such as sociology, disability study, sports psychology and so on. Then it is a very valuable opportunity to set up a meeting place for researchers, practitioners and people with disability in various fields, taking Paralympic Games as a good opportunity.
In this program, we could get a lot of information by interacting with researchers from different backgrounds and practitioners in UK. It was also very valuable that one of the participants is the person with disability. We could have an opportunity to exchange valuable knowledge in a highly diverse group in this program.
There are two notable things in this program for me.
The first thing is about legacy plan. I did not know that a legacy plan has been made for some competitions other than the Paralympic Games. Because of Tokyo 2020, we are doing many sports event in Japan. However, this budget for sports event might be reduced after 2020. If we could set up more roles for sports events in local community by making own legacy to solve local issues, the local event could create incentive to local people and government. Then we could continue the sports event after 2020 in sustainable way.
For example, Natural disasters in recent years have killed many people with disability because those people have difficulties to evacuate from their living space to safe place. Then the local government is making lists of people who have difficulties to evacuate. They have to make individual evacuation plan for each people on the list. However, the preparation of the evacuation plan is not enough (Only 10 % of people on the list have the plan.) and there are few plans that can be used in practice because many of them were made by local volunteers. Sports event have power to gather people. The local sports event for the person with disability can gather the person who have the difficulty to evacuate, including elderly person. Now I started the model project to use the local sports event which the person with disability join as a tool to solve this situation in the area affected by Tsunami in 2011.
The second thing is interaction with researchers at the University of Worcester. In Japan, it is rare for practitioners to do postgraduate studies with their own experience. Many Japanese go on to graduate school directly after graduating from college. However, there were many researchers in Worcester who are doing the research based on their own experience. It was a great stimulus for me to work as a practitioner. Because it is always a challenge for me to evaluate, verify, and publish the results of the activities that I work on.
I hope that this program will trigger a project in which researchers and practitioners from various fields will interact in Japan. I also want to engage in this movement.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone involved in this project, especially Dr. Ian Brittain.