Orienteering, although it's quite recent in Portugal, it's an organized sport with more than 100 years of existence already.
Records indicate that it was in Bergen, Norway, on the 31st October 1897, that the first Orienteering race ever was organized. The Nordic countries are still, until today, the ones where this sport has biggest implantation, mobilizing a number of practitioners that places it between the five most practiced sports in Scandinavia.
Over this century of existence, this modality evolved, becoming a highly developed sport that allows sharing, simultaneously, the same time and space, no matter what the technical or physical level, the age or sex of the athlete is.
Besides Foot Orienteering, today you can also practice it on Ski, riding a horse, in a canoe, and Bike Orienteering or Trail-Orienteering, the latter particularly suited to people with reduced mobility, who move on a wheel-chair. In this context, only people who have mental disabilities stay out, most of all due to the difficulty in structuring a set of guidelines that takes in count the multiplicity and
complexity of these groups and that can be understood as the “game rules”.
Despite the contingencies, prevails the awareness that life is made of constant learning. It is from the boldness of the attitudes of each one of us that results in the joy of reaping the fruits of their actions and their effort. That is why we dare to propose a set of assumptions that, in it's all, define this project work for Adapted Orienteering. The awareness of the risk surrounding this initiative is offset by the necessary humility to accept that this is the first step of a dynamic project, willing to incorporate all the valuable contributions and to improve itself day by day. With that, may everyone want it.
WHAT IS ADAPTED ORIENTEERING?
Adapted Orienteering is intended to be understood as a discipline of Orienteering, particularly devoted to specific groups where intellectual disability and children in preschool are included.
A map, a course, a natural space of freedom and a handful of challenges. This is the essence of Adapted Orienteering “game”, that unfolds over a variable number of points marked on a map and materialized on the ground that should be visited in sequence.
Like in Trail-Orienteering, the choice of the route between each control point is not the athlete's option. Likewise, the winner is not declared as the one who completes the course properly and in the shortest amount of time. The meaning of the time factor is placed in a secondary plan, asking each participant that makes only the correlation between what is marked on the map and is then materialized on the ground, in the form of a color sequence. The answers are indicated in a cardboard shredder provided to each participant before starting the race. In the end, the winner is the one who obtains the highest number of correct answers.
In the beginning, each participant gets one map and one card. On the map, besides the terrain where the race will take place, will be printed a signage that shows the goals that are part of the race and the color sequence that corresponds to the correct answer (picture 1).
Picture 1 – Example of a Signage
The colors used are green, blue and red, which allows a combination of six different sequences. To each one of these combinations corresponds a pictogram (picture 2). Inspired in a language of affections developed by Charles Bliss, the total number of pictograms is five (picture 3).
Picture 2 - Example of a Sequence
Picture 3 - Pictograms
The control card can be subdivided in a set of squares, where you can do the correspondence between the several control points and each one of the pictograms. The participant must mark, using a shredder, which one of the pictograms corresponds to the right color sequence in each one of the control points (picture 4).
Picture 4 - Control Card
The existence of a sixth square, where there is a “x” marked, has to do with the possibility of none of the sequences in the terrain corresponds to the intended sequence.
AN ADAPTED ORIENTEERING RACE
In Adapted Orienteering, the terrain is of main importance. It's recommended that the distance is under 1200 meters and the route has to be planed on trails in areas with no or minor gaps, avoiding terrain accidents or architectonic barriers. In ideal conditions, this course must be marked by appropriate signs (ropes, strings), allowing the progress of participants in an autonomous way and without the risk of leaving the trail and getting lost.
Each control point is materialized on the terrain by an observation point and, in face to this, by a set of three goals, in which are mounted the color sequences (picture 5). Every sequence, as well as the respective pictograms, must be different from one another. The goals have to be near each other enough, so that they can be seen simultaneously.
The participants can do the race individually or in teams, which must be checked by a coach. The teams are constituted by a maximum number of five people. The participants must be stimulated to “invade” the game space, to attentively observe each one of the sequences and to compare them with what is indicated on the signage of the map they're carrying. Then they come back to the observation point and, with the shredder, they mark the correct answer.
A variant can be created, replacing the correct pictogram pecking by its drawing. In one or more certain points, the organization can provide the participants with a sheet of paper with the requested sequence, leaving blank the box corresponding to the correct pictogram. Participants are asked to draw the corresponding pictogram. For the tiebreaker, these points may be valued differently (one correct answer is worth two points, for example) or be timed, similarly to what happens in Trail-O, for example.
There is one key idea that presides over this project: Adapted Orienteering, a sport for inclusion!
Orienteering is a mean to firstly reach an end, sharing the same space and the same time, the person's interaction with others and with the environment that surrounds him, the development and acquisition of skills, through simple rules that, as a whole, make Adapted Orienteering a game.
But as might be expected, it is a whole series of concepts that, in its all, set Orienteering as a sport, which is in inducement here. A map, a route, a natural space of freedom and a handful of challenges are elements that refer unambiguously to the sport of the forest. There is the final track on whose ending you can guess the pleasure of discovery, there is the healthy competition in the rules and respect for each other, there is our environmental conscience to remind us that the space whose integrity is our duty to preserve and defend is unique.
And there are the orange and white goals, waving gently facing a bright cool morning breeze, calling us. In a fast race or on skis, galloping or paddling, on a bike or on a wheelchair. All different, all equal.
Font: Joaquim Margarido ( POBlog )