National level APA organisations and networks

Finnish adapted physical activity (APA) and disability sport is promoted in co-operation by several actors. At the national level the most important actors are the sport and physical activity associations. These actors focus either on competitive or recreational activities for their members, or both. This site contains information on national level APA actors and their networks

The Finnish Adapted Physical Activity Federation SoveLi and National Health, Disability and Physical Activity organisations

The Finnish Adapted Physical Activity Federation SoveLi is a national co-operation, expert and service organisation. The Federation promotes physical activity which enhances health and helps to maintain the functional ability.

The aim of the Federation is to promote equal opportunities to take part in physical activity. Together with its member organisation, the Federation also encourages Finns of various ages to take part in physical activity and to adopt an active lifestyle which maintains the physical condition. The aim is realised through education, information and co-operation projects.

Members of the Federation are 18 national organisations in the field of public health, disability and physical activity. In the member organisations, physical activity plays an important part in the promotion of health of disabled and chronically ill persons and in the treatment and rehabilitation of different diseases and symptoms, although physical activity is only one part of activities and a tool to accomplish wider aims.

Member organizations of SoveLi have in total 1 100 local associations all over Finland and over 322 000 individual members. Each organization has a person whose task is to promote physical activity. The most common types of physical activity are physical activity groups, events, camps, health vacations and rehabilitation courses. Member organizations do tight co-operation with and via The Finnish Federation of Adapted Physical Activity. Member organizations do co-operation also with other national public health and disability organizations, sport clubs, municipalities and national level physical activity programs. Co-operation contains conditions, tools, guidance, events, education, information, projects, materials, development and contributions.

At the local level physical action is planned and arranged by 750 sports coordinators and contact persons. Physical activity is also implemented in local organizations by over 1 000 physical education instructors working together with sports coordinators.


The Finnish Sports Association for Persons with Disabilities (VAU)

The Finnish Sports Association for Persons with Disabilities (VAU) is a non-governmental umbrella sports organisation for persons with disabilities in Finland. VAU is the biggest of the national disability sport organisations. VAU plans, executes and develops sports and physical activity for physically and intellectually disabled people, visually impaired people and transplant recipients.

In the field of Finnish sports and physical activity VAU falls in to the category of service organisations because of its diverse activities. For example VAU offers knowledge and education that helps to develop accessibility in sports facilities. On the other hand VAU is also a national sports federation which organizes sports activities for such disability specific sports that don’t have its own national sports federation in able-bodied sports (eg. boccia and goalball).

VAU coordinates the processes of integration and inclusion with an objective to tie disability sports and adapted physical activity more closely together with sports and physical activity of able-bodied persons. Practically it means that more and more disabled athletes could train and compete within mainstream sports clubs that are members of able-bodied national sports federations.

VAU offers education and training, consultation and evaluation for the parties that are involved in the processes of integration and inclusion. In many sports integration work is done in cooperation of VAU and national sports federation or in trident cooperation between VAU, national sports federation and Finnish Paralympic Committee.

VAU offers professional expertise in the field of disability sports for athletes, professionals and students both nationally and locally. Ideas, tools and resources are within everybody’s reach. VAU is also an active actor internationally.

In the mainstream and with peer support

The main activities of Finnish Sports Association for Persons with Disabilities are children and youth, recreational sports, competitive sports and organizational activities. Supporting activities are regional work, education and training and communications. Special Olympics Finland is part of VAU’s activities.

Associations and clubs who organise physical activity for disabled people are the main members of VAU. There are no personal members in VAU. VAU is a national actor and lobbyist of its members and obeys the ethical codes and principles of sports and physical activity.

VAU’s office is located in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.


The Finnish Athletic Association of the Deaf

The Finnish Athletic Association of the Deaf (FAAD) has been found on 1920. It is the oldest organisation in the field of disability in Finland.

FAAD consist of 13 member clubs around Finland, all together about 1000 members.

FAAD’s main aim is to ensure that physical exercise and sporting activities are available equally to all sign language users and hard of hearing people in Finland.

FAAD has been a member of ICSD (the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf) since 1929 and member of EDSO, (European Deaf Sport Organization) since 1985. FAAD is also working actively in the Nordic and Baltic Deaf Sport Federation NBDSF.

The ICSD administers the international sports of the deaf: the world championship games and both the winter and summer Deaflympics. ICSD and Deaflympics are recognized by the IOC.

Website (only in Finnish and Swedish):

The Age Institute – Centre for research and development in applied social gerontology


  • To produce and disseminate knowledge that can be used to promote good ageing and good old age.

The Age Institute

  • produces and assists in applying research-based knowledge of ageing, older persons’ daily lives and services for older persons
  • produces good practices for older persons, their relatives and professionals
  • supports the implementation of new knowledge, informs and influences through training and use of media.

Focal points of activity

  • Physical exercise, functional capacity and health
  • Encounter, inclusion and mental well-being

Current Research and Development Projects

  • 1. 75+ Fitness without Extra Cost
  • 2. The Art of Living in Old Age
  • 3. The Coordination of the National Policy Programme for Older People’s Physical Activity
  • 4. Meaning in Old Age – Knowledge and Tools for Supporting the Psychological Well-Being of Older People
  • 5. Strength in Old Age. See also Strength in old age pages.


The Finnish Society of Sport Sciences

The Finnish Society of Sport Sciences (FSSS) is a multidisciplinary association that works in the field of physical culture and sports. The Society provides information on sports and promotes activities that call for scientific expertise in the areas of sport and health. The Society also serves as a channel of discussion and influence for all persons and communities interested in sport and health research and the background phenomena of physical activity and sports.

The objective of the Society is to promote physical activity, health and well-being among people living in Finland by means of Science Communication. The Society aims to transmit expert information pertaining to sport and health sciences to professionals and decision-makers as well as to ordinary citizens in order to assist them in making choices that promote their physical activity, health and well-being.

The Society has a long history of promoting adapted physical activity in Finland. FSSS has been responsible for four Promotion of Adapted Physical Activity in Municipalities projects (1997-99, 2004-06, 2007-09 and 2013-15). FSSS arrange the Finnish Conference of Adapted Physical Activity. The Conference is held every four years and it is the largest APA Conference in Finland. FSSS also coordinates the work of committee that is developing APA education and research in Finland.


Network of APA equipment rental actors, Vä

For an individual with a disability it is often difficult to find equipment for sport and physical exercise. Equipment is expensive, and in most cases, both individual adaptations and sports specific knowledge is needed.

Finnish rental actors of adapted physical activity equipment are forming a co-operation network Vä Members of the network are:

  • A rental service for adapted physical activity equipment SOLIA
  • MALIKE Travelling, moving, into the middle of life
  • Sport Institution Pajulahti
  • Yyteri for all/SAMK
  • Respecta
  • few municipalities (Oulu, Jyväskylä, Turku)
  • skiing centres

Network helps clients to find suitable equipment for sport and physical exercise. Network actors are offering rental, testing, advice and consultant services. Network actors take also part in development processes of sports and physical activity equipment. Actors offers education and try-outs for students and professionals. It has also launched several research and development projects in co-operation with Finnish disability sports organisations and universities.

At the local level network has thirteen rental service centres and about 650 different equipment. The most popular equipment has been the items for wilderness activities and outdoor sports. The services are offered by 4 full time employees, 20 part-time employees and approximately 50 trained peer instructors. There are approximately 15 000 renting days per year and average time for renting is 10 days per equipment.

Website (only in Finnish):

More information: SOLIA, Sports Equipment Advisor Jukka Parviainen (jukka.parviainen(a)

The Finnish Paralympic Committee

The Finnish Paralympic Committee is representing the Finnish top athletes with disabilities.

It is responsible for electing and sending the Finnish team to participate in the Paralympic Games. It also spreads information about disability sports, and promotes research and training in this field.

The Finnish Paralympic Committee wishes to raise awareness of the Paralympic Games as an elite sports competition and to broaden our view of elite sports. It also encourages young athletes with disabilities to test their limits in sport and to promote cross-cultural communication between disabled athletes.

The Finnish Paralympic Committee was established in 1994. It promotes clean, fair and ethical elite sports.

The committee works in close cooperation with the Finnish Olympic Committee and it is a member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).



  • VAU ry: SOLIA Equipment rental services for disability sports and recreation 2017.
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