In 2016, champion Daniel Casioli founded the Real Eyes Sport Association to allow blind and visually impaired children to experiment with a variety of disciplines. And to improve relationships with others
Rome – kick, jump, run, throw, roll. Common activities for toddlers, but which can be anything but obvious for a blind or visually impaired child. Not so, however, for the 160 members aged 4 to 15 who joined the Real Eyes Sport Association, founded in 2019 by Daniel Casioli, the blind from birth and the Paralympic water skiing champion. “The goal is not so much to train athletes, but to teach families that, in addition to school and medical visits, they can take their children to sports,” explained Casioli, who now owns 25 world titles, 25 Europeans and 41 Italians. And who, before meeting water skiing, had already practiced swimming and karate. “The idea of creating an association was born in 2016 when, with a shoulder injury, I found myself spending more time than usual,” he continued. “On that occasion I was there to try water skiing with some visually impaired children, realizing how lucky I was as a boy and not everyone, in fact almost no one had the opportunity to play sports like me. That’s why I decided to find such an association. Which focuses on the possibilities that sports can represent for each of us, even for visually impaired children.
Despite the epidemic, today Real Eyes Sport has seen the birth of start-up poles for sports in various cities in Italy, from Rome to Turin, from Milan to Bergamo, from Padua to Rimini. Here the youngest can come in contact with a variety of sports, including athletics, basketball, baseball, football, but also swimming and tennis. Then there are activities reserved for adults, such as 5-a-side football and blind tennis, currently only used in the city of Milan, and special events such as going to the Parmar Dallara Circuit, where the children were able to gain experience. The thrill of getting into a racing car. And of course winter camps on the snow and summer camps in nature, where various sports are still mastered, but relationships with other children, autonomy and inclusion.
“Our children must have different experiences above all else, but the benefits of sports for children in the world of blindness are rarely known,” Casioli summed up. “Those who can’t see can still do a lot,” he added, “but family members need to understand how important sports can be to restore a positive relationship with one’s body. 7. Motor skills that are associated with relationships, which can also be cultivated through sports practice and camp participation. “Blind and visually impaired children spend a lot of time with their parents and other adults,” the founder of Real Eyes Sport notes. Lack of tools for relationships: experiences enrich and provide topics for conversation with peers. “
“Thanks to Real Eyes Sport, Leonardo has improved his level of autonomy: noticing that others are working on their own, he wanted to try it too.” Lucia is thrilled with the little things her little one has done since she started playing. Today Leonardo is about seven years old and lives in Rimini with his parents. Her mother began to suspect that she had vision problems when she was only a few months old, because she had not followed him with her eyes. Then the first medical examination and six months later, a diagnosis that confirmed blindness but ruled out other types of complications. “At that moment,” said Lucia, “I started searching the web for other families in the same situation and, thanks to social media, I discovered the existence of Daniel Casioli with whom I started a correspondence.” Then one day as he was passing through Bologna, Lucia went to meet him and from there a friendship was born, which, some time later, was destined to become stronger with the establishment of Real Eyes Sport. Since then he has participated in activities organized by the Leonardo Association and every Wednesday he follows football training. “It’s very important to her,” her mother commented. “By playing sports he can refine his movements, even making a simple somersault for a blind child is not as immediate as his peers.”
Leonardo and his family also attended two summer camps, from which they were revived and returned full of enthusiasm. While Leonardo experimented with sports such as baseball, horseback riding and surfing, Lucia could join places dedicated to the family and run by mental trainers. “Being able to share my thoughts and emotions with people who know exactly what you’re talking about, because they live in the same situation. We’ve got a great positive charge, I’ve come home with a different energy, the energy we need to face life and look forward. (AP)
(This article is excerpted from the February issue of SuperAbil INAIL, the monthly disability enrollment)