The Association of Paraplegics and Quadriplegics of Serbia (SPIKS) is a national association comprised of 30 organisations that gather people with spinal cord damage from all over Serbia.
It was founded on 15 October 1991 with the aim of representing the interests of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI), encouraging the establishment of new associations and keeping records of persons with SCI, exchanging information and experience, as well as organizing sports, recreational, educational, cultural and other activities.
The Association and member organisations gather people with permanent spinal cord damage resulting in permanent paralysis or weakness of limbs (Paraplegia and tetraplegia), coded G82, under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD10).
SPIKS has about 1,200 registered members, most of whom use wheelchairs for movement. For years, the Association has been contributing to the protection and improvement of the rights and promotion of the position of persons with disabilities through various programs and projects, which are mostly financed by the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs.
During its 30 years of existence and work, SPIKS has implemented numerous activities aimed at improving the quality of life of persons with permanent spinal cord damage.
SPIKS also organized forums where orthopedic aids were discussed, and advocated that people with disabilities be treated without discrimination and respecting prescribed procedures when renewing their driver’s licenses or taking a driving test, and that the adaptation of vehicles, i.e. the installation of hand controls, be treated as an assistive technology that enables people with disabilities to drive safely. SPIKS was also the initiator of the procurement of simulators for assessing driving skills in people with disabilities and the opening of the Driving Skills Testing Center within the Auto Moto Association of Serbia, the only one in the Balkans, and the procurement of simulators was financed by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs.
In 2013, SPIKS signed a memorandum of cooperation with regional associations of persons with SCI, and a year later joined the Balkan independent disability network. It actively participated in the development of the accessibility legal and institutional framework in Serbia, and in 2015 started implementing the campaign “I still drive” and joined the European Spinal Cord Injury Federation (ESCIF), where SPIKS delegate, as a member of ESCIF executive board, each year thematically presents Union’s work.
Fifth September is the World Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Awareness Day, declared by the International Spinal Cord Society at the proposal of the Prevention Committee. Through the “A Day in My Shoes” project, SPIKS has been marking this day since 2017. The activities are adapted to the theme proposed by the International SCI Society each year.
In the period from 2016 to 2021, with the support of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs – Department for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, 58 hand controls for driving were installed and certified free of charge for SPIKS members who are active drivers.
The most notable sports activities, by which SPIKS is widely known, and which it organizes every year, with the support of the relevant ministry and the Department for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, are competitive shooting and chess leagues.
SPIKS is also recognizable for its “I still drive” innovative traffic-safety education program for the young. The aim of the program is that persons with disabilities caused by traffic accidents, by sharing their personal experience, teach young people about traffic safety and compliance with traffic regulations. In the period from 2015 until today, lecturers who completed the training delivered by the Traffic Safety Agency gave a total of 420 lectures, in over 70 cities across Serbia, to 35,000 young people.
In 2021, SPIKS celebrated 30 years of successful work. A short film and an exhibition produced for this occasion were presented at the Formal Observance held in Ivanjica.
The largest-scale activity engaging members from local associations is the sports and recreational competition “National Sports Games of Paraplegics and Quadriplegics” (RSI), organized once a year under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, which in a three-day competition program gathers 120 to 140 participants from Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. RSI include competitions in athletics, table tennis, shooting, darts and chess.
Recognizing the role of sports as an extended form of rehabilitation for people living with SPI, ever since its foundation SPIKS has been organizing sports and recreational competitions and the National Sports Games, where, as members of local association teams, now renowned Paralympians competed for the first time, including athletes Drazenko Mitrovic, Zeljko Dimitrijevic, Milos Mitic, Milos Zaric, Nebojsa Djuric and Ivana Petrovic, table tennis players Zlatko Kesler, Borislava Peric Rankovic, Nada Matic, Mitar Palikuca, Goran Perlic, Zorica Popadic, Vladan Petkovic, Ana Prvulovic and Kristina Arancic and shooters Laslo Suranji, Zivko Papaz, Dragan Ristic, Jelena Pantovic, Dejan Jokic, Zoran Banjac and Zdravko Savanovic.