On Wednesday morning, Sharjah’s Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, attended the inauguration of “Adapted Physical Education” Conference (APE): The Theory and Practice”. The conference, held at the Sharjah Education Academy, had over 30 speakers.

Mona Abdelkareem Al Yafei, Director of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS), opened the two-day international scientific conference with a welcoming address. SCHS organised the event under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the Federation and Ruler of Sharjah. Al Yafei emphasised that the conference is a journey of discovery and collaboration among a selected number of professionals, researchers, and specialists who follow the finest worldwide principles. The conference was organised in collaboration with California State University, Chico, and the Sharjah Education Academy.

Al Yafei emphasised the need for addressing community concerns, particularly those related to adapted physical education. She gathered top specialists and practitioners in adapted physical education to share their knowledge of the best and most recent approaches in the area.

The conference sought to keep up with current discoveries in movement sciences, physical education, and allied fields, with a particular emphasis on the pedagogical, psychological, and health implications of such sports. It also emphasised practical applications, current and sophisticated service techniques, and applications to help individuals and families, particularly those with intellectual impairments, autistic spectrum disorders, and severe and multiple disabilities.

The Director of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) addressed the conference’s objectives, which included active participation in constructive discussions, reviewing groundbreaking research findings, and exchanging experiences in adapting sports to the abilities of people with disabilities. She emphasised the need for creating sophisticated strategies and programmes that use sports to empower and integrate people into their communities.

In her closing remarks, the director urged specialists and practitioners in adapted physical education to design a more successful future that helps a broader range of people with disabilities. She emphasised the need to provide them with the necessary support to achieve success in sports, therefore helping to change society’s conceptions of persons with disabilities and achieve equality and justice in sports and physical activity.

During the conference, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, viewed a video presentation highlighting Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services’ efforts to promote adapted physical education as well as significant programmes provided to individuals with disabilities in accordance with best practices.

Following that, Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Private Education Authority and President of the Sharjah Education Academy (SEA), delivered a speech in which she praised Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi for her dedication to the care of people with disabilities since 1979, as well as her commitment to providing services, empowerment, and education through Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. Dr Al Hashimi emphasised one of the conference’s key goals, which is to establish an educational environment that is appropriate for all children, citing the large number of kids with disabilities enrolled in Sharjah’s private schools.

Furthermore, Dr Al Hashimi outlined the actions taken by the authority to satisfy this group’s diverse demands, such as enhancing school facilities, increasing capacity, training teachers, and establishing academic programmes in conjunction with partners. She also emphasised creating public knowledge about the proper way to interact with people with impairments.

Dr Al Hashimi concluded by expressing her delight in the authority’s research efforts in partnership with the Early Intervention Centre and students from the “Proud Teacher” diploma programme. These initiatives seek to assist people with disabilities, rehabilitate educational and administrative cadres, and carry out the vision and directions of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

Dr Farjou, Monash University’s Associate President for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (MENACA), gave a presentation that highlighted global data and statistics on the number of people with disabilities globally. He reviewed the efforts made by governments and commercial organisations throughout the world to produce various types of adaptive physical education programmes, despite obstacles such as a lack of skilled staff, poor media attention, and excessive financial expenditures.

Dr Farjou emphasised the need for establishing and improving educational programmes for adaptive physical education, as well as promoting their culture, in order to deliver optimal sports programmes across the world. He evaluated Monash University’s objectives and activities, as well as the proposals and solutions presented at conferences and seminars in this field, with the goal of improving and modifying adapted physical education for children with impairments.

Majid Rashid Al Usaimi, President of the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC), gave a speech in which he described his own experience with handicap since infancy, outlining the difficulties he endured till reaching a point of despair and resignation. He complimented His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, for founding the Al Thiqah Club for the Disabled, which altered his life and perspective and allowed him to participate in a variety of sports more readily.

Al Usaimi emphasised that the backing of leadership, desire, and dedication helped him achieve the greatest rank in Asian sports for individuals with disabilities. He thanked Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, under the direction of Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, for the efforts made during his affiliation and studies as well as the city’s services that enhance sports, particularly for people with disabilities.

Dr Rebecca Lytle of California State University, Chico, offered remarks expressing her excitement about attending the conference and thanked the organisers for their tremendous efforts and productive teamwork. She stated that since 1987, the institution has graduated certified training cadres to work with people with impairments. California State University (Chito) strives to create educational programmes for people with disabilities through local and worldwide relationships with supportive organisations and then disseminate them internationally for the benefit of all handicapped people.

Dr Lytle presented the results of relationships with various entities in adapted physical education, which have improved significantly over the years. These relationships have improved children’s skills, mobility, and everyday activities, allowing them to participate in previously tough physical and mental sports. She emphasised that these excellent results encourage the university to do more and build collaborations to provide adapted physical education throughout the world, benefiting all children with impairments.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi honoured the conference’s scientific partners, sponsors, and supporters by presenting them with commemorative shields and taking group photographs with them. His Highness expressed his hope that their efforts to help persons with disabilities, improve scientific and practical programmes for members of disability centres, and prepare athletes to represent the country in the Paralympic Games will continue.

During the conference, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi paid a visit to the accompanying events area, where children from Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services demonstrated their skills and efforts to improve their abilities, control, and tool mastery, boosting self-confidence and behaviour.

Sheikh Khaled bin Abdullah bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Ports, Customs, and Free Zones Authority; Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services; Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Private Education Authority and President of the Sharjah Education Academy (SEA); and Issa Hilal Al Hazami, Chairman of the Sharjah Sports Council, as well as several others, attended the conference’s opening.