Hosted in an area of Rio de Janeiro that has seen tremendous growth due to the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, BlazeSports and its partners launched a two-year initiative that aims to promote social integration of people with and without disabilities through physical activity and sport in Brazil.
The kick off event on March 18th brought together partners, beneficiaries and the sport community in Rio de Janeiro. The US Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde, talked about how the project will be developed, “Today we are launching the Sports for All program focusing on the inclusion of people with disabilities through sport. This program will promote training, exchange of ideas and different aspects of cooperation of sport and people with disabilities. With this initial effort, we will make the effort to include the private sector to give continued support to such activities.”
During the event, other partners including the representative of the Casa Civil of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Pedro Spadale spoke about the importance of sport in the community and to advocate the rights of people with disabilities. Mr. Spadale also spoke about the importance of a legacy organization such as BlazeSports to be in Rio de Janeiro collaborating with Brazilian NGOs and the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee to leave a legacy following the 2016 Games. Cynthia Frisina spoke on behalf of BlazeSports, “Sports for All Initiative in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a groundbreaking collaboration between the United States and Brazil on behalf of people with physical disabilities creating a more inclusive society and increasing awareness of the benefits of sport for all people.”
The kick-off culminated with a practical presentation of partners working with sport for people with disabilities in Rio de Janeiro. The presentation started with a dance performance led by the project PCD of the Secretary of Sport and Leisure of the City of Rio de Janeiro. The dance was followed by a boccia challenge led by Cervim and ANDE (National Association of Sport for People with Disabilities), where young athletes from Cervim challenged the US Ambassador to Brazil and Mr. Pedro Spadale. The event ended with BlazeSports’ Ambassador Anderson Dias, 2004 Athens Paralympics 5-a-side football gold medalist, challenging BlazeSports’ Ambassador Wanderson da Silva, football 7-a-side best player in the world, to a shootout wearing blindfolds.