Important steps in development

Adapted physical activity (APA) and disability sports have a long history and tradition in Finland. During this rich history APA and disability sport have become a important part of the Finnish sport and physical activity culture. This site contains information about the most important steps in development of Finnish APA.


  • Sports organisations for disabled persons founded in Finland
  • Posts for APA instructors in institutions
  • The first APA seminar 1969 (Finnish Society of Sport Science)


  • University-level education in APA begins in Finland (University of Jyväskylä)
  • A pilot and research project in some municipalities about APA 1976-1979 (Finnish Society of Sport Science)
  • Proposal for an amendment to the Sports Act


  • APA National committee 1981
  • A post for a full-time APA planning officer in central government 1982
  • The first Finnish textbook on APA 1983
  • Posts for APA instructors in municipalities 1984 and more wide scale APA action starts in municipalities
  • National organisations in the field of public health, disability and physical activity are getting interested in APA. The Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland becomes the first public health association that is eligible for government sport grants.
  • The first APA consultation days 1986
  • Council for Adapted Physical Activity 1988


  • APA sub-committee to the National Sports Council 1991
  • The Finnish Federation of Adapted Physical Activity (SoveLi) start it activities
  • APA as a specialisation (University of Jyväskylä)
  • Professorship in APA (University of Jyväskylä)
  • Finnish Paralympic Association and APA association
  • APA 2000 committee 1995-1996
  • The first "APA into municipalities" project 1997-1999
  • The Reform of the Sports Act 1998; Local government (municipality) shall provide opportunities and facilities for physical activity of their inhabitants, taking into account special groups


  • Committee developing health enhancing physical activity (HEPA) 2000-2001
  • The first APA evaluation report on municipalities that have an APA instructor 2002 (later 2005, 2009, 2013)
  • Extensive projects, for example APA into municipalities 2004-2006 and 2007-2009
  • A large number of new books and educational materials
  • Increase in the funding of organisations
  • Activities to enhance integration and inclusion


  • Four Finnish APA organisations merged into Finnish Sports Association of Persons with Disabilities (VAU ry) 2010
  • APA sub-committee of the National Sports Council ends. A new Division for Equal Opportunities and Gender Equality is established. Promoting APA is one of the task of the new division 2016.
  • An evaluation of the goverment's activities in APA 2018 (Finnish Society of Sport Science)


  • Kari Koivumäki: Basic facts about Adapted Physical Activity in Finland 2014.
  • Kari Koivumäki - Toni Piispanen: Development of Local APA Instructors' work in Finland. Helsinki 2010.
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