To better understand what is happening within the Bronx People project in Bacau, Romania, whose doors we opened at the end of May 2024, one aspect of the project is particularly significant. These are the activities reserved for children with intellectual disabilities. Too often ostracised by society, they are welcomed with open arms by Daniel Zodian and his team. The goal is to integrate them by giving them a chance to grow up harmoniously. Let's say it right away, the transformations are spectacular and they are mainly thanks to judo but are not limited to the practice of the sport. The work done on a daily basis by Bronx People restores faith in humanity.

Maria has been working with Daniel for two years. She was one of the first residents when Bronx People was born. Today, she is very involved in working with children with intellectual disabilities. "The first thing we pay attention to is the safety of the children. What interests us next is that each of them feels integrated with the group and society. It is not a question of being right or wrong but of feeling good."

The judo sessions take place in Bacau within the grounds of an institution that welcomes children with disabilities. After a few months of practice, noticeable changes are already being felt, "The children quickly gain self-confidence. They are happy and joyful on the tatami, but also away from it."


Maria started judo with Daniel as part of the Bronx People programme. She is one of the young people they take care of, accommodate and relaunch in life. She is still today a member of the ‘house of happiness.’ "I started judo when I was 13. I immediately trusted Daniel and the chemistry with him took hold right away. I trust him and he gave me confidence in myself. He helped me make the right choices.

I then did other things, but three years ago, Daniel called me back because he needed a teacher to work with the children with special individual needs. I had stopped judo at that time but I immediately felt that it was a great opportunity. I had to relearn a lot of things and today I am happy to be back in this big family and to contribute to the wellbeing of children."

Among the children diagnosed with a disability, there is Marioara. At three years old she was separated from her family and at 9 she crossed paths with Bronx People. At that time Daniel was touring orphanages to offer judo activities. "When I was younger, I had no reference points, I didn't know where I came from and what I was doing here. I had been diagnosed with mental retardation; I was lost, but Bronx gave me a new direction in life."


Today, as Marioara says, all her problems have not disappeared but she knows how to manage them. "I feel supported, accompanied. Judo has offered me opportunities that I could not have imagined. Bronx People has offered me a family. That's really how I feel. When we are together everything is more alive, bright and colourful."

Last year Marioara participated in the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 and won a medal. "Of course in sport there is competition with others but above all there is competition with yourself and that's what I learned here."

The least we can say is that the Bronx People resident has changed a lot. She now also works with children with learning difficulties and wants to complete a course of study in physical education to continue this work in the future. Working with vulnerable children has become her dream.

The examples of Maria and Marioara are emblematic of what Bronx People achieves daily. We can truly speak here of a miracle in the human sense of the term. What would they have become without the support they received? Where would they be today? It is difficult to answer but what is certain is that they now have a path ahead of them, a path that they follow with joy and good humour, a path that we wish for all the children of the Earth.

See also