Adapted Judo in Burundi

A testimony by Denis Reymann

Responsible for the establishment of the adapted judo at the Akamuri center - Bujumbura

After two year, I am back in Burundi

To share my love of judo to young people in difficulty

In late October 2008, I am finally back in Burundi, the last stay dating from April 2006. During this period, I continued my studying and I am specialized in adapted sports, adapted for young people with a mental disability. Last February, the other group members including me about a project on sport and particularly adapted judo. The time to make a small record and again I am seating the plane towards Burundi.

On the program 4 interventions were included. First a meeting with theoretical video to explain specifically what was the activity, followed by three sessions of practice.

Monday, October 27th 2008, on the way to the AKAMURI center, my feelings are first of apprehension and curiosity and there are so many questions that I ask myself. What is the center? With what audience will I work? ... All these questions interest me.

Arrived at the center, I introduce myself and asked whether it was possible to present the work to everyone on video and in a second time I said that I am ready to answer questions of the young children, educators and officials of the center.

Immediatly, people are captivated by the video and there is not even one noise in the classroom, all eyes are directed on the screen. Watching this film, they discover something new. At the end, all children are euphoric and want to do judo. You can feel the emotion and the desire is extraordinary, they all smile and want to participate. During the first session, I also have an discussion with the head of the center which is a Sister, discussion during which I explain and describe the activity and what it can make to this young people.

During this first contact, I could get an idea of what kind of audience is welcomed into the center in order to propose a practical session which is adapted. The center hosts mainly young autistic syndrome and hemiplegic children ...

I feel great satisfaction and pleasure

Tuesday October 28th, arrived at 9am with the truck filled with tatami, young people arrive immediately, greet me and help me to install the dojo.

I ask the teacher to get the two groups the most homogeneous possible. That first day I lead two animations with groups of 8 young children. The session is as follows: warming-up exercises, balance in space and also exercices to prevent to fall so that the young people can learn to fall and therefore to fall without getting hurt. Secondly, exercises geared towards the opposition but very progressive and finally a return to calm with a record of the training.

I feel great satisfaction and a great pleasure to be able to carry out this animation with these young people. It is really a very rich experience in human terms. Since this experience is an exchange it also gave me happiness. At the end of this first meeting, I feel great satisfaction. On the way back, Nicolas who accompanies me to make some pictures, said that discussions with a teacher took place during the training session. He was very surprised at the work that had been achieved and that there were people with autism who do not participate in other activities and had difficulty accepting a command and today there where just happy to participate.

They can still interact with others with their "heart"

You should know that a person with autism is a person who is not aware of others. Therefore, he or she does not have feelings or expressions. The more one tries to enter into a relationship with he or she, the more he or she gets isolated. In my session I left a quite important part of freedom so that they can make their choice of wanting or not to participate in the activity. The autistic persons have participated in the session and followed all situations. If children are not aware of another, they can still interact with others with their "heart". By leaving one hand free and leaving young autistic evolve in a setting where they feel safe, they can join various activities.

Thursday October the 30th, for the second practice session, I am in the company of Frederick. Upon our arrival at the center, all children come running to welcome us, they look really pleased to see us again. When the teacher must prepare the groups, it appears that this is a complex situation because they all want to do judo.

The second session of discovery is once again a great success with this good atmosphere and this joy that I have already experienced the day before. All have a smile on their face. The trainings take place in the same manner as the first two ones: 40 minutes per training in order to reach a larger number of young people.

Monday October the 3rd, the last session of judo at the AKAMURI center take place. For this last session David is with me. When we arrived at the center nothing changes: this immense joy, pleasure, these smiles. This meeting goes very well, I have no difficulty to manage the children and they want to play, to have fun ... We are already at the end of the meeting and therefore at the end of my interventions in the AKAMURI center. The results of these interventions are extremely positive, I hope that these kids can enjoy an activity such as judo in the future, which is an activity that allows, not to work against the partner but with him and thus, to evolve and to conquer autonomy.

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