Judo club for people with disabilities “Fuji” was founded in August of 2012 and is the first of its kind in Croatia. The club gathers around 40 children and young people whose diagnoses include, but are not limited to cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities (special needs), motor impairments and autism spectrum disorders. In September of 2012 the club started its cooperation with The Special Education Centre in Velika Gorica whose users are also members of the club.
The club activities include practice sessions throughout the year, club tournaments, advancement (belts) testing, taking trips, taking part in different local disability sport promoting events as well as attending various cultural events such as theatre shows or concerts. Even though our members are divided into several groups we do our best to keep our approach as individual as possible. At the moment we operate five different groups: The first consisting of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy and motor impairments, the second those suffering from Down syndrome and special needs, the members of the third group are the users of the Velika Gorica Special Education Centre, the fourth group gathers children with motor impairments and special needs while the fifth includes girls with motor impairments and special needs. Besides, a few individual training sessions are held regularly.
Inclusion is a basic human right and therefore we believe it should be a state of mind and not only a program. In our experience the best way to achieve it has been making new friendships. Judo is an incredible educational tool, connecting people with a wide range of disabilities and those without any. The majority of Fuji activities, in which we have regular help from the young members of the Judo club „Pinky“, are based around inclusions. This form of inclusion has a decisive influence on our helpers as it helps stop the forming of any potential stereotypes, as well as developing sensibility and willingness to help people with disabilities. On the other hand, children with disabilities are this way given a chance to train with their peers without any disability and thus break psychological barriers, build self-esteem and start creating a feeling of true sportsmanship. Through this form of inclusion we give these two groups a chance to form friendly relationships based on continuously motivating each other and devoid of any stereotypes.
It is very important to influence children without disabilities as early as possible to enable them to truly value the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. That is why we strongly encourage even the youngest judokas without disabilities to join our work and help us change the state of mind on the local level.
With the formation of our club a place was created where disabled children can experience all the benefits of training, but also a place where they can sense feelings of belonging and security. This is a place where no one tries to segregate them based on their disability, where they are all equal and where their effort is rewarded with continuous progress.
The general philosophy of judo:
Judo helps develop self-discipline, self-respect and also respect for others. The basic principles of judo are the principle of maximal efficiency and the principle of mutual wellbeing which we all can implement into our personal relations. The basic goal of judo is the development of oneself and the continuous pursue of perfection to become more valuable as a member of one’s community.