Day 7 and 8 – October 19 and 20, 2012: A bientôt Haiti
The Blaze team returned to the nation’s capital after completion of succes
sful training workshops and the National Disability Sports Festival in Petit-Goave. BlazeSports Country Director Daniel Pierre-Charles led a tour of the city centre, highlighting the progress made since the devastating earthquake in January 2010. The Blaze team had the opportunity to enjoy local arts and crafts and a final glimpse of Haitian culture at a local jazz concert. The team wrapped up the very successful and rewarding week in Haiti and returned back to the US on Saturday October 20th. A bientôt!
A special thank you to US Paralympics Soccer Assistant Coach Mike Haas, US Paralympics Soccer Players Josh McKinney and Tommy Latch as well as BlazeSports’ partners in Haiti who have helped BlazeSports to further its mission in Haiti. The project in Haiti would not be possible without the financial support of USAID, Department of State and UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace.
Stay tuned for BlazeSports’ next international project in Jordan in the upcoming week!
Day 6 – Thursday October 18, 2012: Training Workshops Take a Deeper Dive
BlazeSports continued with its training workshops on Day 5. , US Paralympics Assistant Coach Mike Haas, with Paralympians Josh McKinney and Tommy Latch, led a Paralympic Soccer training session for coaches from each of the ten regional departments in Haiti. BlazeSports staff facilitated an in depth session on Track and Field and Boccia for a select number of Haitian emerging leaders in disability sport and recreation.
Day 5 Wednesday Oct 17, 2012: 5th Annual Disability Sports Festival in Haiti
The Haiti Paralympic Committee, in partnership with BlazeSports America hosted the 5th Annual Disability Sports Festival where over 600 people with various types of physical disabilities from all over Haiti gathered to try out and compete in a range of disability sports. The event was held at a local high school- Lycee Faustin Soulouque in Petit-Goave. Amongst the notable dignitaries present were Gerald Orioles, Secretary of State for Integration of people with disabilities; Carolina Hernandez, Project Director for Human Rights and People with Disabilities; Organization of American States; and Grylande Bois, Disability Advisor, USAID Haiti, all of whom expressed their support for such an important event for people with disabilities in Haiti.
This year’s event was the biggest ever since it’s debut five years ago, and has greatly increased awareness about opportunities for sport for people with disabilities in Haiti. Several hundred of the participants enjoyed the opportunity to try new sports like sitting volleyball, powerlifting, soccer, and boccia. For Gyrlande Bois, Disability Advisor for USAID Haiti, this event was big step in the right direction, “Most often, we focus on events like this for non-disabled people so this event will raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with the inability to participate in sports for people with disabilities. It is also an opportunity to engage people with disabilities who have never participated in sport to try something for the first time.”
BlazeSports is proud to partner with the Haiti Paralympic Committee, and other key partners like Service Chretian d’Haiti (Church World Service), Project Hope, Christian Blind Mission (CBM), AGITOS Foundation (International Paralympic Committee) and Special Olympics to collectively improve the lives of Haitians with disabilities.
The disability sport festival was not just for people with disabilities, as coaches, trainers and sport recreation and physical activity professionals were able to apply their skills learned from the previous days’ training facilitated by BlazeSports. In addition, many citizens of Petit-Goave gathered at the event grounds to witness and enjoy the spectacular event. Two Haitian Paralympians who competed in the recently held London 2012 games, Jouse Cajuste and Napthalie Jean Louis dressed in their official Haiti uniforms, were also present at the event to encourage and motivate other people with disabilities who had never tried a sport before.
BlazeSports would like to thank all its partners, particularly our funders USAID, US Department of State and UNOSDP for paving the way to establish an inclusive society in Haiti, one step at a time. In the words of Carolina Hernandez, Project Director for Human Rights and People with Disabilities, Organization of American States “it is not so much about disability as it is about having an enabling environment that can reduce the barriers to participation in society for people with disabilities”.
Day 4: Tuesday Oct 16, 2012 Hands-on Disability Sport Training Continues
Day Four saw the continuation of interactive and hands on training. The attendees participated in a workshop session on community empowerment followed by a presentation on Paralympic sports classification. The group then split into smaller groups with each having the chance to try out two different sports, and learn the skills that will help them to adapt practices for those with disabilities.
Despite the high mid-day Caribbean temperatures, all the participants remained fully engaged and based on feedback left with a new found confidence on delivering inclusive sport programs for those with disabilities back in their communities. The day concluded with a briefing on the newly trained attendees role during the National Handisport Day – Haitian Paralympic Sport Festival the following day. The attendees would have an opportunity to put their learning into practice during this event. All attendees received certificates of participation.
Day 3: Monday October 15, 2012 – Training Workshop Series
Monday was the first training day in Petit Goave in an outdoor training center. Over 50 professionals from all 10 departments of Haiti attended for a day of learning basics about Paralympic sport development and coaching. Attendees were then divided into 3 small groups to focus on specific Paralympic sports – soccer, sitting volleyball, track and field and boccia. Not only did the participants learn the basics of each sport, but they also got a chance to try the sports hands-on. BlazeSports’ Jeff Jones and Dan Humphreys lead track and field and boccia. Stuart Sharp headed the soccer program with US Soccer Paralympians Tommy Hatsch and Josh McKinney, and Coach Michael Haas. Gillian Sharp headed the sitting volleyball training.
All participants were very enthusiastic about the program and were eager to learn more about what each sport had to offer. Pierre Richard Medor, Paralympic Track and Field and Swimming Coach for Haiti, expressed his satisfaction with the training and demonstrations, “Everyone should have the opportunity to have access to training like this. I hope we can keep on getting more training and hands on demonstrations like this”.
The training program continues all day Tuesday (Day 4) with the same 50 attendees. Each group will be able to try 2 new sports throughout Day 4.
Day 2: Sunday October 15, 2012 – Cultural Exchange Day
The BlazeSports delegation spent Sunday on a cultural exchange trip with local residents to Bananie beach, outside of Petit Goave, Haiti. The day started off with a boat trip while enjoying the scenic views of Haiti’s coast and the local fishermen.
When ashore, the team met up with village locals to play beach soccer and other activities. Of course, the cultural exchange would not have been complete without sampling local traditional staple dishes and freshly caught lobster and fish.
The team was ready for the busy week ahead!
BlazeSports delegation with BlazeSports Haiti Country Director, Daniel Pierre-Charles (far left)
Saturday October 13, 2012
The BlazeSports delegation arrived safely in Haiti to begin a week of activities supporting BlazeSports Haiti Disability Sport Project – funded by USAID, US Department of State and UN Office for Sport Development and Peace. The journey was full of excitement as half of the delegation is on their first trip to the island, and there was much anticipation about what is coming in the week ahead.
Highlights of the Upcoming Week – October 13-20, 2012
Sunday Oct 14: The team heads to a nearby island for a cultural exchange activity.
Monday Oct 15 and Tuesday Oct 16: The delegation facilitates a series of training workshops in the city of Petit Goave to 50 professionals representing all 10 departments of Haiti in different Paralympic sports, training methods and improving performance.
Wednesday Oct 17: There is a change of pace as the Haiti Paralympic Committee and BlazeSports host National Handisport Day – Haitian Paralympic Sport Festival. The annual event draws over 500 athletes of all ages to participate in Paralympic sports; the event should generate a lot of excitement and competition.
Thursday Oct 18: The training and capacity-building continues as US Paralympic soccer players and coach join Stuart Sharp, Director of BlazeSports International Sport Development to facilitate a day-long training in soccer in Port au Prince. The remaining delegation conducts other sport specific trainings for a group of emerging Haitian professionals.
Friday Oct 19: The last day of activities. The delegation heads to Port au Prince to participate cultural exchange activities.
Saturday Oct 20: The delegation returns to Atlanta with many stories to tell and photos to show.
The BlazeSports delegation is thrilled to have this opportunity in Haiti. Expectations are high for all involved. According to the Director of BlazeSports in Haiti, Daniel Pierre-Charles, there were over 100 professionals interested in signing up for each of the training seminars, which highlights the significance of BlazeSports’ mission in Haiti.
Check back for daily updates and photos from delegation members on our progress in Haiti!