Residents of Brest, Belarus, recently attended the “Sport for All” festival and official inauguration of the first Inclusive Center for the Promotion of a Healthy Lifestyle in Belarus. The event allowed guests to learn how to better take care of their bodies, church leaders said. The center includes facilities for people with special needs.
Along with several other sponsors of the project, the new center has been steadily supported by Seventh-day Adventist Church and local Adventist congregations in the area. On behalf of the Euro-Asia Division (ESD) church region, communication director Ivan Ostrovsky attended the inauguration ceremony.
“I wish this unique center becomes a place where everyone may feel love, friendship, and mutual support,” Ostrovsky said, “as we learn to communicate with each other without barriers.”
The center, which is free for residents, boasts courts for various sports and games, including facilities for people with special needs. Children can use a special section with games and a playground in the open air.
“We want to introduce citizens to new opportunities for increasing physical activity,” said Ivan Shmyga, leader of an organization supporting people with special needs. “It was created thanks to the support of the Adventist Church, with which we have been helping people with disabilities for more than 20 years.”
Shmyga explained that for him, helping people with special needs is personal.
“Thirty-five years ago I lost my leg, and I understand how important it is to cherish health and how difficult it is for people with disabilities to be accepted by society,” Shmyga said. “May equal opportunities, the warmth of relations, the joy of communication, mutual understanding, and love for each other be the motto of these new facilities,” he added.
Paralympic champion Anna Sirotyuk agreed.
“Movement is life, so it’s great that this center has opened in Brest,” she said. “Movement turned me from a bedridden patient into a person who gets all the opportunities life can provide.”
During the opening day of the center, guests learned how to lead an active lifestyle. Teenagers took part in relay races, and children attended an interactive health exhibition and craft workshops. Others participated in a variety of games and sports, including volleyball, boccia, and games designed for people with special needs. The day ended with a musical concert.
The new Inclusive Center for the Promotion of a Healthy Lifestyle is part of the “Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, Promotion of a Healthy Lifestyle and Support to the Modernization of the Healthcare System in the Republic of Belarus” (BELMED), an initiative funded by the European Union, the Ministry of Health of Belarus, and other organizations.