Erasmus+ funding for IDEAL 2.0 project awarded to Virtus

We are delighted to announce that Virtus has been awarded the Erasmus+ Sport funding for the IDEAL 2.0 project. The grant has been secured for the next three years. This is the second time for Virtus to be partner in the award-winning consortium. Earlier, Virtus had received the Erasmus+ grant in 2017 and was one of the proud partners in the successful IDEAL project. The resources for coaches generated through that project have contributed to the launch of Virtus Academy, which is a global hub for research, training, and education of elite ID-sport. 

Building upon the outcomes of the first IDEAL project, and considering the COVID-19 situation, a new consortium was built to address the needs and priorities in the field of Inclusive and Equitable sport. The IDEAL 2.0 will be coordinated by KU Leuven in Belgium, in collaboration with four other research institutions (Miguel Hernandez University of Elche in Spain, Reykjavik University in Iceland, Jozef Piludski University of Physical Education of Warsaw in Poland, and Dublin City University in Ireland). 

IDEAL 2.0 stands for “Inclusive and Equitable sport for people with Intellectual disability (ID) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)”. IDEAL stands for: 

Include (create awareness within society about Inclusivity in sport),  

Develop (translate Evidence-based practices successfully to sport professionals), 

Educate (teach coaches and support staff on how to organize adapted sport training), 

Activate (address the relevant social-determinants of inactivity) and 

Lead (foster leadership and personal development skills of our athletes)

Virtus’ role in the project is to contribute to the development of coaching resources and raising awareness about the high-level achievements of athletes with ID. Virtus is in a unique position being able to connect with athletes and coaches worldwide, as the world intellectual impairment sport organisation.  

Dr. Debbie Van Biesen, Virtus Academy Manager says, “IDEAL 2.0 is a groundbreaking and innovative project. With Virtus involved as one of the partners in this ambitious project, all Virtus members, athletes and coaches will benefit from exposure to evidence-based examples of good practice. Virtus will contribute to create a future sport policy promoting sport in a fully inclusive and equitable way.”  Dr. Debbie is also working as a Post Doctoral researcher at KU Leuven, who will be working actively in the IDEAL 2.0 project.

Being active is a public health priority focus, but having ID and/or ASD is related to lower PA levels, increased sedentariness, and an associated increased risk of health problems (e.g., diabetes, obesity), and low physical fitness. In addition, in many countries, majority of young people with intellectual disability (ID) and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have fewer opportunities to become physically active or to access sport which is a harsh reality. Moreover, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has caused further restriction to the PA routines of the marginalized population of youth with ID/ASD, exacerbating the physical and mental disparities they experience. 

The IDEAL project is going to instigate the changes in the society towards a more inclusive world, especially those with intellectual impairments and/or autism. The overall goal of the IDEAL 2.0 project is to facilitate equitable and inclusive access to sport and PA for young people with ID/ASD. In an IDEAL world, everyone has the right to participate on an equal basis with others in society, including in physical activity (PA) and sport.