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23rd International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity in Jyväskylä

Credits: Erwin Borremans

A boy in a wheelchair and an assistant in a competition.
Credits: Erwin Borremans

The 23rd ISAPA was hosted by the University of Jyväskylä in June 2021

The University of Jyväskylä and Finnish Society of Sport Sciences, with the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity hosted the first Online International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity (ISAPA) on June 15-18, 2021. ISAPA is a well-respected international scientific congress and is organised around the world biennially. The Online ISAPA 2021 was granted patronage by the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE).

Adapted Physical activity is an academic discipline to research and practice to modify physical activity for individuals with disabilities, including physical education, through sport, recreation, rehabilitation, dance, sport medicine or health care. The theme of the congress, ”Quality Partnerships in Adapted Physical Activity: Stronger Together” emphasised well the excellent cooperation within Ministry of Education and Culture, different universities, sport associations for people with disabilities, and municipalities who all work to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities in Finland. ISAPA 2021 was awarded to Finland in 2019 with the hope to bring researchers and practitioners to the famous University of Jyväskylä grounds. Adapted Physical Activity in Finland is regarded highly from around the world, and such an event would help attendees gain more insights from Finland. The events from COVID-19 pandemic led to a decision by the local organising committee to turn the event into a full online congress.

Participants from all 7 regions of IFAPA took part in the event. Almost 400 people from 44 countries logged into the ProspectumLIVE livestreaming platform for the event. Due to the time differences from around the world, the daily schedule was staggered in order to allow all participants have a prime time broadcasting. The 4-day programme included 7 keynote presentations, 2 Nordic panels and 8 parallel sessions with oral presentations, innovative sessions, and mini symposia. Poster presentations were available at the virtual exhibition hall throughout the Symposium.

All the presentations were pre-recorded to avoid any technical issues during the sessions. Q&A sessions after the presentations were hosted live. Presentations were available for the participants for two weeks after the Symposium at the ProspectumLIVE-platform.

In addition to the scientific programme, there were interactive online events. For example, scenic videos of Jyväskylä were also broadcasted to the attendees, quizzes with prizes on offer, fitness session broadcasted by Special Olympics athletes from Africa, and Meet Your Keynote Speaker -sessions. The IFAPA general assembly and awards ceremony was also held virtually during the Online ISAPA 2021.

The feedback from the attendees was generally positive and lessons learnt for future ISAPAs to consider hybrid events that allow people from around the world to attend ISAPA.