BlazeSports makes long-term commitment to work in Haiti

BlazeSports America has recently taken steps to solidify its position as an agent for change for people with disabilities in Haiti. Since the devastating earthquake in January of 2010, BlazeSports has been providing leadership and in-country activities and programs to empower people with disabilities and those with a desire to work with this population. Through a series of workshops, sporting events and humanitarian connections, BlazeSports has provided meaningful support to many hundreds of Haitians and these numbers are ever increasing.

BlazeSports is currently hiring staff and securing office/meeting/housing space on the island nation which is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere…and one of the poorest in the world.

Consider how you can play a role in rebuilding Haiti and supporting Haitians with disabilities…make a monetary donation to BlazeSports earmarked for Haiti, buy a Torchrunner Press book or donate goods which can be sent to Haiti such as a wheelchair, forearm crutches, Paralympic sporting equipment, etc. Contact BlazeSports to find out how you can play a part.

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Give the Gift of BlazeSports Books

The holidays are fast approaching, and BlazeSports has the perfect gift for the child in your life. How Haitians Play Basketball introduces us to Milekson, a boy with a different way of walking and a big love for basketball. When an earthquake strikes Milekson’s home on the island country of Haiti, his life and the lives of his friends and family are changed in big ways. This book, the second in the BlazeSports Children’s Series from TorchRunner Press, is a great way to tactfully teach your child about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the abilities of people with disabilities, and the triumph of the human spirit.

And don’t forget about Ricky Played, the first title for TorchRunner. In this delightful book, we meet Ricky, an amazing boy who reminds us that every child deserves the chance to play.

Whether for Christmas, Hanukkah, or just an anytime present for your little one, TorchRunner Press offers one-of-a-kind books for your one-of-a-kind kid.


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Blazers Take on a Challenge!

Blazers learning the importance of communication in completing a task.

The Georgia Blazers wheelchair basketball team traveled to Kennesaw, GA to participate in a day long leadership program held at the Challenge Corner, a high ropes outdoor education course located on the campus of Kennesaw State University.

Blazers working on the cooperation it takes for four people at a time clearing the jump rope.

Ten athletes were challenged to leave their comfort zone by participating in a variety of activities designed to strengthen individual and team leadership skills. As part of an ongoing First Work Leadership Program, the course was designed to help identify individual strengths and weaknesses and promote teamwork.

Blazers take on the challenge of the giant balance platform.

Blazers succeed in "balancing" the giant platform...great teamwork!

Blazers’ Coach Cully Mason completing his turn on the high ropes.

Activities included simple games with jump ropes and stuffed animals and progressed to the more “extreme” activities including a high ropes activity and gigantic balance board.

Chance Boyd experiencing a high ropes course of the first time.

BlazeSports America would like to thank Susan Whitlock and Dr. John David Johnson of KSU’s Health, Physical Education and Sport Science Department for organizing and implementing the day’s activities.

Special thanks to Shane Wahner and the Chicago Pizza for providing a great deep dish pizza lunch for participants and volunteers and to KSU students Leann Rainnes, Amanda White, Robert Bryan and Deena Rizk that help make the day a great success. Kudos to Blaze staff member Felipe Rodrigues for a job well done.

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BlazeSports Conducts CDSS Training Workshop in Colorado Springs

US Paralympic staff member and BlazeSports Board member Tim Willis participates as a guest lecturer during the second day of Colorado Spring CDSS training.

BlazeSports directors Ann Cody, Jeff Jones and Dan Humphreys are conducting Level I and II Certified Disability Sport Specialist training in Colorado Springs, CO on November 18 and 19. Twenty participants are in attendance at the workshop. Upon completion of the two days of training, the participants will receive their CDSS certificates denoting their enhanced expertise in sport and physical activity for people with disabilities.

Dan Humphreys, Director of BlazeTEC, shares his insights on disability sport with the Colorado Springs audience.

The CDSS program was initiated in 2011 to fill a void. No certificate training programs to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of persons interested in working in Paralympic sport and physical activity existed. Through the BlazeSports Institute for Applied Science (BIAS), the knowledge-base and courses for the different levels of certification were developed. BlazeSports has begun training interested persons now from all over the world through its Annual International Paralympic Sport Conference as well as these workshops.

Director of Sport and Community Programs, Jeff Jones, shares his knowledge of wheelchair fitting with the audience.

Through their participation in the CDSS program, volunteers, coaches, and professionals can all demonstrate to employers and organizations that they are leaders in disability sport. The credential signifies the ability to provide safe, effective programming and knowledge of the latest research in the field. Further, the certification enhances existing credentials such as CTRS, CPRP, PT, OT, and others by demonstrating specialized knowledge in disability sport.

Ann Cody, Director of Policy, speaks to the group on Advocacy and the ADA.

Through BIAS, professionals can be credentialed as one of four levels of Certified Disability Sport Specialist (CDSS). These levels of accreditation are based on educational background, professional/work experience, continuing education, completion of the BIAS/CDSS Curriculum, and successful completion of exams. The BlazeSports staff works closely with candidates to determine which level of certification is appropriate for their individual situations.

Level I focuses on developing and certifying competencies in areas such as risk management, injury prevention, wheelchair maintenance and repair, person-first language, the ADA, and wheelchair transfers. Upon completion of the CDSS Level I certification, the individual will possess the skills necessary to deliver safe, appropriate, and effective programming to the standards of best practice.

Level II builds on the fundamental skills developed in Level I and cultivates the abilities necessary to offer direct programming at the highest standard possible. Course topics include planning and goal setting, Paralympic sport structure and classification, mental skills training, wheelchair sizing and fitting, and the role of technology in disability sport. With the CDSS Level II certification, the candidate will have the knowledge and the ability to implement disability sport programming that exceeds the basic provision of services.

Level III certification is designed to help hone the skills of those who are looking to become leaders in disability sport on a regional and national level. The Level III curriculum will further educate candidates on current issues in disability sports, event management, sport administration, gender issues, and advanced topics in mental skills training and disability sport technology. After attaining CDSS Level III, professionals will have the set of tools that will empower them to affect change not only in their local program, but also on a national scale as leaders in the disability sport movement.

As he or she pursues CDSS Level IV, the highest level of certification, the candidate will study subjects necessary for leadership on the international level. Level IV topics include current issues in the Paralympic movement, sport for peace and diplomacy, international exchange programs, and disability sport development in Third World countries. Upon completion of the Level IV program, the individual is certified as possessing the skills and knowledge necessary to serve as a global leader in the Paralympic Movement.

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BlazeSports Offers Train-the-Trainer Archery Workshop at Fort Stewart for WTU

BlazeSports staff and Level 4 USA Archery Instructor Ginger Hopwood hosted a day long Train-the-Trainer USA Archery Level 1 Instructor certification clinic for staff of Fort Stewart’s Warrior Transition Unit. Archery is one of the most popular sports for WTU service members. The day-long clinic included a mixture of classroom lectures and hands-on training with archery equipment at the Fort Stewart archery range.

Ginger Hopwood providing one-on-one instruction during the USA Archery Level 1 certification progam.

USA Archery Level Four National Instructor, Ginger Hopwood, includes a detailed equipment orientation as part of the Level 1 USA Archery Instructor Certification class.

Thirteen WTU personnel participated. Eight of the thirteen completed the full day of instruction and passed the certification test.  The certified personnel will be charged with organizing an ongoing archery program at Fort Stewart so WTU service members will be able to train for the annual Warrior Games as well as the inter-installation competitions held between Forts Benning, Stewart, Gordon and Jackson.

Warrior Transition Unit personnel takes turns being instructor and student.

Posted in Archery, News |

Blazers Wheelchair Basketball performs well in season opening tournament

Blazers WC Basketball Teams Dominate in Season Debut

The Georgia Blazers Wheelchair Basketball Team opened their 2011-12 season at the 2011 Winter Classic held in Concord, North Carolina, November 5-6. The Blazer’s Prep Team started Saturday’s competition with a dominant 28-6 victory over the Junior Thunder from Raleigh, NC. The Blazers were led by Josh Joines and KJ Reese who had 12 and 10 points, respectively. Collin Lancaster scored 4 points and Samuel Armas rounded out the scoring with two points.

The Prep Team’s second game was against a very young and inexperienced Charlotte Rollin Bobcat team. The Blazers slowed down their offense and gave the young Blazer players some quality playing time. The scoring was spread throughout the entire team with all eight players scoring at least one basket. Blazers win 20-8.

The Georgia Blazers’ Taevon Grant prepares to shoot a foul shot.

The Prep squad finished a long day at the Cabarrus County Boys and Girls Club with a re-match with the Junior Thunder. The Blazers extended the defensive dominance with a 20-0 win. Samuel Armas and KJ Reese led all scorers with 6 points each, followed by Josh Joines with 4 and Collin Lancaster and Chance Boyd both with 2 points each. The Prep team heads into Sunday’s games hoping to finish their first tournament with a perfect 5-0 record.

The Blazer’s Varsity had a rough start to their 2011-12 season with a loss to long-time rival Lakeshore Foundation (AL). The Blazers kept it close in the first half and only trailed by two points, 19-17. Lakeshore proved to be too much for the Blazers in the second half and cruised to a 38-21 win.  Christina Young led the Blazers with 10 points, with Ben Baxter adding 6 points in the losing cause.

The Blazers rebounded from the opening loss with a convincing 41-18 victory over the Junior Thunder (NC). The Varsity squad spread the scoring between all six players. Treyvon Smith led the way with a career-high 16 points. Brent O’Grady scored 8 while Bryan Powell and Curran Brown scored 6 points each. Ben Baxter and Christina Young rounded out the scoring with 4 and 2 points, respectively.

The Varsity’s third game of the day was against regional powerhouse the Charlotte Rollin Bobcats. The Blazers carried their momentum from game 2 into a defensive battle and were leading at half time 12-11. Led by senior and college hopeful, Christina Young, who scored 10 second half points. The Blazers slowly pulled away to a solid 36-25 win. The victory was the first over the Bobcats in five years. The Varsity squad finished their tournament weekend on Sunday against the Music City Thunder (TN).

Christina Young at the foul line during a 36-25 upset of the Charlotte Rollin Bobcats.

Blazers Dominate in Season Debut: Day 2

The Georgia Blazers Wheelchair Basketball Team completed their season opener at the 2011 Winter Classic held in Concord, North Carolina. The Blazer’s Prep Team started Sunday’s competition with a rematch of the Charlotte Rollin Bobcat team. The Blazers played an identical game as they did on Saturday, slowing down their offense and giving the young Blazer players a lot of playing time. The scoring was, again, spread throughout the entire team with all eight players scoring at least one basket. The Blazers won 26-6. KJ Reese and Cameron Elzey led the Blazers with 6 points each, while Collin Lancaster scored 4 points and Samuel Armas, Collin Lafon, Chance Boyd, Taevon Grant and Josh Joines all scored 2 points.

Cameron Elzey double high fives Taevon Grant after Taevon makes his first ever basket.

Before the start of the Prep team’s final game, the tournament organizers announced the All-tournament awards. The Blazer’s Josh Joines was named to the All-Tournament Team, as was Christina Young for the Varsity division.  Congratulations to both.

Blazers Prep Team star, Josh Joines, named to All Tournament Team

The Prep squad’s final game was against their regional rivals, Music City Thunder (TN). Prior to the start of the game Music City’s Madison Melton was named MVP of the tournament. The Blazers played a very strong defensive first half shutting out the Thunder. At the same time the Blazers couldn’t buy a basket, shooting 3 for 26 and led by only 6-0 at half time.

The second half was a different story as the Blazer’s finally got their offense rolling, while continuing to play stellar defense. Josh Joines led the Blazers with 12 points, followed by KJ Reese and Samuel Armas who both scored 8 points. Chance Boyd rounded out the scoring with 2 points.  Blazers win 30-0 and finish their first tournament of the season with a 5-0 record.

Blazers Prep Team Captures Tournament Championship

The Blazer’s Varsity also played Music City Thunder in their final game of the tournament. Christina Young led the Blazers with 12 points, with Curran Brown adding 8.  But, the Thunder proved too much for the Blazers winning by the final score of 43-27. The Varsity squad’s 2-2 finish was considered a good start by Blazers Head Coach Cully Mason who said “considering we were missing two of our starters due to injury, I thought our team played well. At times we played really well. We have a lot to look forward to this season”.

The Blazer’s varsity squad exchange hand shakes with the Music City Thunder after a 43-27 loss.

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In the News for the Week of November 6, 2011

Georgia Blazers Open 2011-2012 Wheelchair Basketball Season

The Georgia Blazers Wheelchair Basketball team opens their 2011-12 season at the Winter Classic Wheelchair Basketball Tournament being held in Concord, North Carolina.  The Blazers are coming off a strong 2010-11 season with the Varsity squad finishing in the top 16 and the Prep squad finishing as the best Prep team in the Southeast. The Blazers’ Varsity team will play 4 games in two days, facing the Lakeshore Foundation (AL), the Junior Thunder (NC), the Charlotte Bobcats (NC) and Music City (TN). The Blazers’ Prep Team will play 5 games against three teams, facing the Junior Thunder and Charlotte Bobcats twice and a single game against Music City.

Follow the Georgia Blazers on Twitter and Facebook as score form our games are posted throughout the weekend.

November 7 – BlazeSports Offers Train-the Trainer Archery Workshop at Fort Stewart

BlazeSports staff and Level 4 USA Archery Instructor Ginger Hopwood will be implementing a day long Train-the Trainer USA Archery Level 1 Instructor certification clinic for staff of Fort Stewart’s Warrior Transition Unit. Archery is one of the most popular sports for WTU service members.  Once trained, WTU staff will organize a ongoing archery program at Fort Stewart so WTU service members will be able to train for the annual Warrior Games as well as the inter-installation competitions held between Forts Benning, Stewart, Gordon and Jackson.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the IPC Academy, has launched an online course for individuals interested becoming a Technical Official in the sport of Athletics. The course, which is a 15 to 24 hour online learning program, is intended to provide an entry point to those looking to get involved in officiating IPC Athletics. Individuals who complete the course will be equipped with a greater knowledge, skill-set and competence of what is expected as a Technical Official.

Ade Adepitan, Great Britain Paralympian and one of the key personalities leading GB Channel 4’s coverage of London 2012,  had his specially-adapted car and wheelchair stolen by a gang of thieves in Chiswick in West London this week. Adepitan and the police are appealing to the public for assistance in locating his white BMW X5 car, emblazoned with the distinctive London 2012 logo, and the items in the vehicle including Adepitan’s expensive, specially adapted sports wheelchair.

Disability Sports Namibia (DSN) received significant financial support this week when Namibian utilities provider NamPower donated approximately $600,000 to help their preparations for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVAF) Chief Executive, who also extended funding to the team, called upon the corporate world to follow their lead and support Namibia’s Paralympians.  Six Namibian Paralympians have qualified for London 2012.

The Jamaican Paralympic team also received a major funding boost this week just ahead of the 2011 Parapan American Games. Their sponsors Jamaica Beverages helped fund the team competing in Mexico after a cash infusion of  $1.3 million (£807,000/€920,000) . Earlier this year the Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) also received $1 million (£620,000/€707,000) from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).

Tatyana McFadden, 2010 NYC Female Wheelchair Marathon Champion, donated her 2010 NYC Marathon gold medal to Orphanage 13 in Russia where she spent her first six years. She presented the medal to the Orphanage staff during a visit with her mother to St. Petersburg this year.

The United States House of Representatives this week approved a 3.6 percent increase in veterans disability compensation for the coming year, sending the measure to the White House for final approval. The President is expected to sign the measure into law in the next few days. This will mark the first cost-of-living adjustment for disabled veterans since 2008.

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