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UFIT Spain Launches at IHRSA European Congress

The UFIT Conference and Launch of UFIT Spain took place at the IHRSA European Congress in Seville, Spain today.

Universal Fitness Innovation & Transformation (UFIT) is a global social change movement, led by the UNESCO Chair in the Institute of Technology Tralee, Ireland, aiming to increase fitness opportunities for all, in particular people with disabilities.

Catherine Carty, manager of the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Fitness, Sport, PE and Recreation, opened the conference by providing an overview of the UFIT program. Dr. Javier Pérez Tejero (CEDI), the lead of UFIT Spain, underlined the significance of this revolutionary initiative and its development and brought potential future Spanish taskforce members with him that are eager to roll out the UFIT programme in Spain. The official UFIT “SIVA” song and an inspiring message from its producer, Pati Umaga, concluded the welcoming address, and later inspired dancing of the attendees.

The conference included two keynotes. The first by Colin Milner who addressed the “The Aging Opportunity” and the second by Scott Goudeseune who discussed “Why [we should] do UFIT?” The two panel discussions, involving leading global experts, got to the crux of UFIT. Some of the topics explored: the needs, the benefits, the barriers and the opportunities of inclusivizing fitness and of implementing UFIT.  

The first panel, ‘Just do UFIT’ was chaired by IHRSA Executive Vice President of Global Products Jay Ablondi and included Scott Goudeseune (ACE, USA), Dr. Javier Pérez Tejero (CEDI, Spain) and Kilian Fisher (IHRSA, International) who shared their experiences and vision. On the second panel, Fred Hoffman led Mariusz Damentko (Special Olympics Eurasia), Lauren R. Darensbourg (President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, USA) and Graham Melstrand (USREPS/ CREPS, USA & Canada) on an exploration of ‘the Business Case.'  

One of the many key messages was made by Lauren R. Darensbourg stating, ”UFIT enables fitness professionals to open up their eyes to diverse group populations.” Gerard Masdeu Yélamos (UFIT Global Coordinator) then presented the global UFIT experience. In the closing address by Catherine Carty highlighted “the momentum and willingness to drive inclusion across the fitness industry is evident and energizing.” Dr. Javier Pérez Tejero then officially launched UFIT Spain and brought the conference to a great end uniting the Spanish taskforce with each other and also taskforce members of other countries.

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