SOCIAL INCLUSION, SPORT, EMPOWERMENT AND CITIZENSHIP: HOW A USERS’ ASSOCIATION CAN PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH Tosi Chiara, Palazzi Angelo, Marchetti Luca, Cucinelli Gianni, Kertusha Besart, Tambini Michela, Turola Maria Cristina Club Integriamoci Association, Ferrara, Italy ABSTRACT Objectives, Background and Aims For people suffering from mental diseases, recovery and social inclusion are among the main goals of care to be achieved. While therapy and rehabilitation take place especially within health care sector in public hospital, health care departments and residential structures, in collaboration with doctors, nurses and other health care operators, social inclusion and citizenship must be carried out outside, in real world putting the patients in the condition to face the challenges that come from living in a civil society. This becomes less difficult with the help of a peer group. Materials and methods Club Integriamoci volunteer association, founded in 1998, is made up of users, former users, family members and supporters. At the beginning of its activity it was strongly wanted and funded by the Public Mental Health Service of the Municipality of Ferrara, then it gained independence until it become completely managed by users now. The association carries out sport activities with weekly or twice a week frequency (soft gymnastics, swimming, soccer, volleyball); it takes part in athletic tournaments in collaboration with high schools and other initiatives to fight stigma; it organizes trekking and walking events open to all citizens to promote the benefits of physical activity on wellness; it takes active part in projects funded by the region with other Italian peer associations on the promotion of physical and mental health. It also organizes cultural events and art therapy exhibitions. Results /Conclusions Health, competences, active style of life, wellbeing, cohesion, fun against disease, disability, isolation. These are all skills that can be easily attained taking part in simple and funny sport activities. Active members have achieved real empowerment, with improved self-esteem and quality of life. Our association has gained an active role and it’s socially well known and considered both in the area of no profit organizations and at the municipality level, and it plays an important educational activity in schools to prevent stigma. We would like to share our experience.
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