All Stars Summer Sports Camp

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By Erin Bukovic, BlazeSports Intern and Camp Leader at All Stars Summer Camp

The All-Stars Sports Camp held June 12-14 was a great success! Together with Reaching for the Stars, a foundation of hope for children with Cerebral Palsy, BlazeSports provided the 3-day summer sports camp at Hembree Park in Roswell, GA.

The wonderful athletes who participated were introduced to new sports along with working on skills of sports they already played. The children participated in basketball, tennis, boccia, soccer, baseball/softball and volleyball. Over the 3 day camp, these athletes with Cerebral Palsy expanded on their knowledge of how to play and adapt to each of the sports, increased their physical activity, gained confidence in their ability to play some sports that they thought they could not play and they gained great friendships throughout the week that will hopefully continue.

 

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Posted in Camp, News |

Sports Helps Injured Syrian Refugees and Jordanians Find Common Ground

syrian refugees and jordanians find common ground thru sport

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2013

Contacts: 

Stuart Sharp, ssharp@blazesports.org, +1 404-402-4634   

Abdullah Alyamani, BlazeSports In-Country Coordinator: +962 787 00 742

 

             Sports Helps Injured Syrian Refugees and Jordanians Find Common Ground

 

BlazeSports, an NGO founded as the legacy of the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, is making a difference using sport as a vehicle to increase the self esteem and social tolerance of Syrian refugees in Jordan.

 

AMMAN, JORDAN – As part of the World Refugee Day celebrations, 40 Syrian refugees with disabilities will attend a USAID-funded sports festival at the National Paralympic Committee of Jordan (NPCJ) sports facility on Friday June 21 from 1pm to 4pm. The Festival will mark only the second time this injured and often ostracized group have ventured out of their rehabilitation center in Amman.

The group, who is supported by the Syrian NGO “This is My Life”, was encouraged to step outside their compound for the first time after hearing of another BlazeSports and NPCJ Sports Festival held the previous week. During this festival the Syrian refugees were only spectators looking on as Jordanians with disabilities participated in a variety of adapted sporting events. However, after encouragement from BlazeSports staff and Matthew Underwood, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer with the US Embassy, the Syrian attendees agreed to venture from their seats and speak with some of the Jordanian participants. As conversations began to develop, both groups discussed their life experiences together while finding a common ground via their love of sports.

On Friday the Syrian Refugee Disability Sports Festival will see Jordanian coaches, previously trained by BlazeSports, deliver a variety of events and use sport as a common language to convey messages of social tolerance and friendship. Stuart Sharp, BlazeSports Director of International Development, said “This was a very exciting development of our work in Jordan and truly shows the power that sport has when it comes to breaking down barriers and building social tolerance. We hope that we can now find funding to continue our efforts in Jordan to support conflict resolution and highlight areas of commonality between the people of Jordan and Syrian refugees through sport”.

Notes for Editors:

World Refugee Day: 

http://www.worldrefugeeday.us/site/c.arKKI1MLIjI0E/b.8092105/k.B369/World_Refugee_Day.htm

Festival Address: 

National Paralympic Committee of Jordan
Sport City Area Al Riyadah
PO Box 960562 

 

Pictures of BlazeSports’ USAID-funded Jordan Project: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151153977388181.445892.130742503180&type=3

 

About BlazeSports America  

BlazeSports America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, that empowers children and adults with physical disabilities worldwide through sport.  Formed in 1993, as the direct legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Paralympic Games, BlazeSports programs and services encourage lifelong health, build leadership skills, foster independence and inclusion, and promote an inclusive society.  For more information about BlazeSports’ international efforts, visit http://www.blazesports.org/get-involved/international-programs/.

 

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Posted in Featured, Football 7-a-side, International, News |

Haitians Wrap Up Exchange Trip to United States

After a busy weekend, the Haitian group of campers and leaders, who are participating in our U.S. Department of State – SportsUnited funded exchange trip, made their way to the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute in Warm Springs, GA to spend five days at BlazeCamp.

After unpacking their bags, the Haitian group leaders joined their American peers for camp training while the campers took a tour of the Little White House. There they learned about the history of former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who himself had a physical disability but never let this get in the way of his career and achievements.

The following day the U.S. campers arrived and from the outset it was evident that the language barrier was not going to be a big issue when I came to both groups interacting and having fun. It didn’t take long for everyone to start to relax and enjoy playing games with one another. Throughout the week more and more friendships were created between the two groups. U.S. camper Derek Duvell’s favorite part of the week was getting to know the Haitians and learning more about their culture.

During camp, both the Haitian campers and leaders were trying new activities they’ve never experienced before. Some activities included learning to swim, archery and track and field events. A common favorite was being able to go out on the lake in canoes, kayaks and paddleboats. Everyone was having a good time Kayakrowing under the fountain to cool off on the hot day. A true culture exchange moment came during the nights at the camp fire where the leaders taught everyone games that Haitian children play in their country. All the campers were smiling, laughing and enjoying learning the new games.

On the last night of camp, everyone dressed up and threw on a cowboy hat, bandana and sheriff badges for the hoedown party. Once they heard the music, people were showing off their best dance moves and having a great time. To end the week at camp, the campers split up into teams representing different countries for a mini Paralympic Games where more activities were played. Once the day started wrapping up, it was time to say goodbye to a group of people who truly made the week an unforgettable one.Haitians Hoedown

For their last day, the group was able to buy some souvenirs for themselves and family members and have an “all American” style sleepover at the Powder Springs First United Methodist Church.

Everyone was sad to see the Haitian exchange group fly on Sunday after 10 fantastic days in Atlanta but at the same time happy that new lasting friendships had been established. 

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Posted in Camp, Haiti, International, News |

BlazeCamp 2013 Wrap Up

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By Kit McCluskey, BlazeCamp Leader

BlazeCamp  was held at the traditional location of Camp Dream at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute in Warm Springs, GA from May 278th – June 1st. The camp saw great success this year bringing in 30 participants with physical disabilities  from around the country and 12 international campers from Haiti. The purpose of the camp is to give children with physical disabilities the opportunity to meet new friends, build confidence, develop independence, and try new things and in this year’s case learn about a new culture.

Maya + Haitians

For a majority of the campers, this was their first time away from their parents and they didn’t know what to expect. With the help from the leaders, it didn’t take long for the kids to feel comfortable and immediately start playing while making new friends. Many of the staff have been campers themselves so they know what it is like. Christina Young, one of the leaders said, “I first came to BlazeCamp when I was 8 years old. I keep coming back as a leader because I want to help the campers have the same positive experience I had.” James Adams and Bryan Powell feel the same positive impact and attributed BlazeCamp to the reason they became involved in wheelchair sports.

Kayak

During the 5 day camp each camper had the chance to participate in a variety of activities including archery, fishing, soccer, bowling in addition to many others. Camper Rachel Barnett’s favorite part of the week was reaching the top of the climbing wall. It was the first time she has ever done something like that and she was able to work on her fear of heights.

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Another favorite part of the week was swimming. Campers were able to conquer their fear of water with the help of Coach Fred and staff teaching them how to swim. Seeing their success, proved to each camper how much potential they do have and nothing is holding them back from doing what they want to achieve.

Outdoor Pool

A new element of the week was the culture exchange between the Americans and the Haitians. A few of the nights, while making s’mores by the campfire, the Haitian leaders taught everyone games commonly played by kids in their country. Even with the language barrier, it was easy to interact with one another because sports and having fun is all universal.

Blue team

On the last night, the campers and leaders dressed up in their cowboy hats, overalls and bandanas and had a Hoedown party. The evening was filled with dancing, music and fun. To end the week, the campers split up into teams representing different countries for a mini Paralympic Games. Afterwards, there was a BBQ where the kids were able to share their favorite memories of the week with their families.

Haitians Hoedown

BlazeSports would like to thank all the campers and staff who came out to make for a wonderful week. We’d also like to thank our sponsors the Kyle Pease Foundation, U.S. Department of State – SportsUnited, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Resurgens Charitable Foundation. Without their generosity camp would not have been the same.

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Posted in Camp, Featured, Haiti, International, News |