Ill-Abilities are Better Dancers than You, Me, Everyone

Luca “Lazylegs” Patuelli. Pic courtesy of CTV Montreal.

While surfing the net today I stumbled across an article on the CTV Montreal website profiling Luca “Lazylegs” Patuelli. Luca was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that has left him with very little muscle tissue on his legs. He needs crutches to get around, but thanks to his ingenuity and natural talent, he has turned these crutches into a pair of the coolest dance shoes around.

You see, Luca is a founder of the Ill-Abilities breakdancing crew. Along with his crewmates Checho, Kujo, and Redo, Luca travels the world showing off his incredible moves. These guys–all four of whom have physical disabilities–are fantastic dancers by any metric. They move, swing, and spin as well as any BBoy you’ve ever seen, with or without the a disability. Don’t believe me? Check out this video. Or this one. And then there’s this one.  Prepare to be amazed.

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NBA Legend Pat Williams to Deliver Keynote Speech at BlazeSports Conference

We are pleased to announce that NBA icon Pat Williams will give the keynote address at the 11th Annual BlazeSports International Conference on Paralympic Sport and Physical Activity. Pat is the Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic (this is the guy who drafted Shaq, y’all!) and the author of an incredible 65 books. He has managed teams in Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orlando, and was named one of the 50 most influential people in NBA history in 1996.

Pat Williams has a reputation for delivering insightful, engaging talks, and we are thrilled to have him at this year’s conference. His presence is one more reason why we expect this year’s event to be the best ever. Trust me. You’ll want to be there on September 15-18. Click here to reserve your spot today!

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Double-Amputee Oscar Pistorius to Run at Worlds

South African runner Oscar Pistorius. Pic courtesy of PopSci.

It’s finally happened, folks. An amputee sprinter has flown past all the barriers of disability and prejudice to compete against the globe’s best able-bodied runners at this month’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. As ESPN reports, double-amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa will run in the 400 meters and the 4×400 relay. Pistorius, who ran a personal best 45.07 last month in Italy, had to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after the International Association of Athletics Federations insisted that his prostheses gave him an unfair advantage. The CAS saw through these arguments and struck a blow for disability rights by giving Pistorius the chance to run.

With this major victory, Pistorius is well positioned to become the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympic Games next summer in London. Like Marla Runyan before him, Pistorius is a genuine trailblazer. The Worlds run from August 27 – September 4, and we’ll keep you up dated on Oscar’s performance.

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BlazeSports Featured on WSBTV

As part of their P2P series, WSBTV Atlanta has released a video profile of BlazeSports! The video features interviews with athletes, coaches, and staff as well as some fast-paced wheelchair basketball.

I can’t embed the video on the blog, but definitely check it out by clicking here.

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Disability Related Crime on the Rise in Britain

Deutsche Welle reports that crimes against people with disabilities are on the upswing in Great Britain. Scope, a non-profit for Britons with cerebral palsy, has reported a 50% increase in verbal abuse and intimidation toward people with disabilities on London’s public transport. David Congdon of Mencap, another non-profit, has noticed similar trends, saying, “When you hear stories of people being tipped out of a wheelchair.  That frankly beggars belief.  Why would anyone actually do that?”

Some speculate that this alarming uptick is related to tabloid coverage of a handful of high profile fraud cases, including a woman claiming disability payments who was later seen skydiving. Britain’s tabloid culture–a famed bastion of shoddy ethics and social irresponsibility–have used these cases to tar the disability community as “work shy” and “spongers.” Their sensationalism has helped to manufacture resentment against a group that has done nothing to deserve it.

Fortunately, police seem to be responding to the issue. Officers now receive mandatory training in disability related crime, and journalist Katharine Quarmby, author of the book Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People, speculates that the spike in statistics may be partially attributable to better reporting of incidents that were already happening in the past. Further, Mencap has launched a three-year “Stand by Me” campaign against this kind of crime. Hopefully these efforts will help curb the troubling trend and help to ensure the safety of all Britons.

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Check Out BlazeSports’ Online Library of Training Tools

It’s no secret that BlazeSports is an industry leader in the creation and dissemination of state of the art materials for disability sport professionals. We have a history of producing videos, webinars, and literature to help keep you informed on the most effective coaching techniques and standards of best practice.

To make these resources even more accessible, we are pleased to introduce the Training Tools page on our website. Helpfully organized into Sport & Coaching, Program Development, Testimonials, Policy & System Change, and Children’s Resources, this library contains a valuable stock of information for people throughout the disability sport community. Be sure to check it out!

P.S. Even though its a resource for “children,” I’m pretty fond of the Blaze Hoops Challenge game. If you’re looking for a way to procrastinate at the office, you’ve found it.

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Yoon Seok-yong Talks PyeongChang, Disability Sports in Korea

Yoon Seok-yong, pic courtesy of YonhapNews.

As we covered last month, PyeongChang, South Korea was selected as the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Though this news was met with celebrations in Korea and congratulations from around the world, Yoon Seok-yong, the head of Korea Sports Association for the Disabled, was more ambivalent. “But honestly,” he told YonhapNews, “I also felt like a poor man watching his rich older brother having a party next door.” Yoon was unhappy with what he felt was the lack of interest in disability sport amongst the Korean people and media.

He is not a pessimist, though. The PyeongChang Games, Yoon believes, have the potential to increase the public profile of athletes with disabilities in Korea and to augment government support for programs like semi-pro teams. Yoon has reason to hope. The Paralympic Games have a history of leaving their mark on the cities that host them. BlazeSports is a proud example of this trend. We were founded as the legacy organization of the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, and in the years since, we have made a difference in the lives of thousands of people with disabilities both domestically and abroad. With a little elbow grease, we are confident that people like Yoon can parlay the Games into a significant stride forward for Koreans with disabilities.

Check out Yoon’s complete interview with YonhapNews by clicking here.

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