A story to tell!
It was my friend who introduced me to the Sport for All courses promoted by the Fondazione Milan and Playmore!
In September, I immediately signed up with M., my autistic nephew, for the Saturday morning course: gymnastics to the rhythm of music. We have just attended the fourth lesson, but already at the first one I realised that we had landed on a fantastic planet.
Meanwhile, PlayMore! is a beautiful, colourful place, full of life and movement. It is a beautiful place outside and inside, because of the way it is made. Because it is not an ultra-protective ‘special context’, set up for people with disabilities of various kinds, but simply a place made up of people, which meets everyone’s needs and does not expect the opposite! It is a place where we not only welcome the diversity of each individual but also try to turn limitations into potential, if possible. Instructors are wonderful people because they know how to observe and understand the difficulties of each person and ‘gently push’ them towards overcoming their limits. How? By laughing, playing, getting involved while maintaining a secret aim: that of training, together with the muscles of our bodies, the propensity to socialize, to understand oneself and others, to grow and strengthen the self-esteem of each member of the group.
M., in four lessons, went from being extremely anxious for fear of not being up to the situation, to being applauded like a rock star because dancing is one of the things he does well. For M., every situation in life, even the most trivial, such as saying his name at the right time, or keeping his voice down so that others don’t get scared, is not trivial at all. For him, any trial is a giant source of anxiety that he fights daily with the courage of a samurai and the desire to emancipate himself and try to be happy, like everyone else. But here at Sport for All, M. has gone from being overwhelmed by anxiety to being someone who is appreciated for the way he dances or for his imaginative way of giving names or inventing special greetings. Interesting qualities have blossomed from his weaknesses. From a person with a disability to a person with skills, in less than two hours! And this is only possible on an advanced and innovative planet.
And now to me. I’m having a great time because each member of the group has his own way of seeing the world, which is disorientating for our vision of normal people, too often conditioned by stereotypes, prejudices and iron logic. But this disorientation is pleasant! I, for example, didn’t expect it, didn’t know it, but I needed a hug. And in four lessons I received hugs from different people, which was very emotional for me.
At the end of the first lesson, M. and I walked in silence to the metro station as I realised that something had changed for both me and him. I remember asking myself: “How did they get into my heart already?”
In conclusion, I find that the Sport for All courses are truly an authentic place of inclusion, reminding us that being together is beautiful, and playing together is even more so!
Support the Fondazione Milan projects and help create a world without distinctions, because sport changes lives!