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1,500 people run together at the first EU championship for autistic people

More than 1,500 runners, among which over 400 are on the autism spectrum, participated on November 26 in a race organised in Rome. The run was the final event of the first European Union championship for autistic people, aiming to raise awareness for inclusion. 

The day consisted of two runs. The first one was a 10km run which was a traditional race for more competitive runners. This was followed by a 2.5km run, where whole families could take part together. Parents and other runners supported and guided autistic athletes along the tracks and crossed the finish line with them. Camilla Ferlito, Italian FISDIR (Paralypics Federaion for Intellectual and Relational Disabilities) champion in the 400 metres hurdles, also took also part in the race as a top athlete. 

The race, initially scheduled on September 10 and canceled due to bad weather conditions, was the final competition of the multisport event that began on September 7. Autism-Europe’s President, Zsuzsanna Szilvasy, and Vice-President and self-advocate, Pietro Cirrincione, along with other AE member associations, took part of the events organised by the Italian association Progetto Filippide thanks to the Erasmus + project ECAP (European Competition for Autistic People). 

At that time over 2,500 participants from 12 different countries (Slovakia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Malta, Croatia, France, United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and Italy) were able to join Progetto Filippide’s operators spread across Italy and take part in training sessions in sailing, swimming and athletics. Italian municipalities, as well as local sports associations, schools and volunteer associations, were also involved in organising the event.  

The association Progetto Filippide, created in December 2014 at the initiative of Autism-Europe member Association Diversamente Onlus from Sardinia, is recognised by the Italian Paralympic Committee and was awarded the ECAP project within the framework of Not-For-Profit European Sport Events being promoted by the European Union. Since it was founded, it has used sport as a means for the inclusion of autistic people and, above all, has defended sport as a way to generate spaces of equality.