BlazeSports America and UK Sport Exchange participants arrived in Washington, D.C. to kick off the BlazeSports UK Sport and Cultural Exchange project in collaboration with the US Embassy in London. Seven young people with physical disabilities from the UK along with BlazeSports staff will participate in an incredible experience integrating the two cultures – UK and the US. The Exchange group will spend time in Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA and Montgomery, Alabama, The purpose of the exchange is… to learn various ways to promote cultural integration between British and American citizens and civil society organizations. This exchange will also focus on the role of disability sport in inclusion and society.
During their time in Washington, D.C. the members of the exchange will explore the Nation’s Capital, tour multiple American universities, participate in a disability awareness day ,and speak with various representatives, advocates, and educators of disability and inclusive sport development.
Here are a few highlights from Washington, DC:
On the first day, the UK Sport Exchange was spent touring the beautiful city of Washington, D.C. and learning about one aspect of American culture.
“We went into Washington, D.C. and went to famous sites like the U.S. Capital building, The White House, Abe Memorial, and the Washington Monument. It was such a great day, and I had such a laugh,” Stefan Hoggan, one of our seven participants said on Tuesday morning.
The following day, the Blaze UK Exchange group met with staff members of the United States Agency of International Development (USAID); Charlotte McCain-Mhlapo, Coordinator for Disability and Inclusive Development;Jill Moss, New Media Development and Internet Freedom Fellow; Maryanne Yerkers, Senior Civil Society Specialist, and Leah Maxson, Technical Advisor for Disability. The USAID is one of BlazeSports main funders for international sport development projects. The Exchange participants participated in a round table discussion talking about various topics, such as, the overall goal of USAID, disability rights, social media enforcement, and youth in sport development.
“It has been an incredible experience thus far, and I am looking forward to the rest of the trip. I am beyond thrilled with everything we have learned so far and can’t wait to bring new ideas to Scottish Disability Sport,” group leader, Jennifer Livingstone said.
The participants also had the opportunity to visit U.S. Department of State and Sports United to discuss topics on Sports Diplomacy
Initiatives. Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Judith Huemann, facilitated a round table discussion, which gave participates the chance to discuss various policies, ask questions, and speak on behalf of their communities in Scotland.
For the remainder of the UK Sport Exchange, activities include a visit to Nationals Park, one of the most accessible MLB stadiums, a round table discussion with Maryland University government representatives, meeting with the Institute for Educational Leadership, and many other learning opportunities.