“Sports For All” Brazil

BlazeSports International returns to Brazil to host ‘Sports for All’ activities

The BlazeSports International team returns to Brazil to host training workshops and inclusive sports festivals promoting integration of youth with and without disabilities in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasilia as part of the USAID and BlazeSports initiative ‘Sports for All Brazil’.

‘Sports for All’ Empowering People with Disabilities to Lead an Active Lifestyle project in Brazil aims to promote awareness of the rights of children and adults with disabilities to experience the full enjoyment of sports and physical activity, improve health and quality of life of Brazilians with disabilities through participation in sports, and create an inclusive and accessible society that allow for people with disabilities to participate throughout daily life.

The Training Workshops followed by an inclusive sports festival, which are open to the public, will take place in each of the three cities. The festivals will provide an opportunity for community members, workshop participants and project partners to try adaptive sports, apply learned skills and increase awareness about the overall initiative. A full schedule is provided below.  Stay tuned for great pics of our team and partners in action!

Rio de Janeiro – Campus da Universidade Estacio na Barra da Tijuca

March 10-11: Workshops
March 12: Festival

 São Paulo – SESC Pinheiros

March 15-16: Workshops
March 17: Festival 

Brasilia – SESC Ceilândia

March 18-19: Workshops
March 20: Festival

 Since the two-year project began in 2014, ‘Sports for All’ initiative has served 299 individuals, trained 63 leaders on inclusive sport strategies and strengthened and empowered 7 organizations. BlazeSports International will host final trainings and workshops in July in a lead up to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

 Project partners include the Secretary of Sport and Leisure for the City of Rio de Janeiro (SMEL), SPORTV, Secretariat of the State of Rio de Janeiro for Sport, Leisure, and Youth (SEELJE), SESC, Brazilian Society of Adapted Physical Activity (SOBAMA), and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee.

Posted in Global Initiatives, International, News |

UK Sport and Cultural Exchange

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.

The 7 participants pose to a picture in the National Mall with the Capitol Hill as a background

The 7 participants pose to a picture in the National Mall with the Capitol Hill as a background

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

The group meets with Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED) at the beautiful Georgetown University campus

The group meets with Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED) at the beautiful Georgetown University campus

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. 

Posted in Featured, Global Initiatives, International, News, Policy/Advocacy |

BlazeSports Celebrates the First International Day of Sport For Development and Peace in Haiti and Jordan

For the first time, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) was celebrated on April 6th 2014. This important day has received worldwide support and BlazeSports could not be left out! To commemorate this date, BlazeSports with its partners in Haiti and in Jordan, organized an inclusive festival in both countries. 

Sit Volleyball in Haiti

Sit Volleyball in Haiti

In Haiti the festivities took place in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Civic Engagement’s Sports Centre Dadadou, in Port-Au-Prince. 200 children and youth from 8 to 17 years of age, with various disabilities (physical, developmental, mental and emotional) and 50 kids from the Haiti Ministry of Sport School of Talent played together in celebration of the power of sport. The activities included a mix of traditional sports such as soccer, sit volleyball, athletics and boccia with recreational games. The event was organized by the Foudation Gerárd Pierre-Charles with support from BlazeSports and the United Nations Office on Sport For Development and Peace (UNOSDP). 

“That was a fruitful moment that we have spent with about 250 kids with and without disabilities playing together. It was a great experience for me.” Said Dimitry Supreme, a volunteer with the Foudation Gérard Pierre-Charles that will represent Haiti in June at the UN Youth Leadership Camp in Florida. 


Festival Participants in Zarqa, Jordan


Meanwhile in Jordan, over 100 children and youth with and without disabilities had the chance to celebrate the IDSDP by participating in a soccer festival. With the support from the Jordan Football Association (JFA), the city of Zarqa played host to the celebration that was highlighted with the Jordanian Paralympic soccer National Team playing an exhibition match. 

Posted in Featured, Global Initiatives, Haiti, International, News |

Exclusive Video: BlazeSports’s Jordan Legacy

BlazeSports’ USAID funding for its sport for development project in Jordan came to an end in August this year, but the development work undertaken during the past 2 years continues to produce lasting results. During the project period BlazeSports trained over 200 volunteers, delivered programs for over 2,200 participants and worked in partnership with 13 in country agencies to ensure that a post project legacy was left in place.

This post project legacy and partnership work was demonstrated recently when The Jordanian Football Association (JFA) hosted an inclusive festival attended by over 200 boys and girls in the City of Zarqa.  Furthermore we are proud to report that the festival was organized by Mr Taha Ziadeh, who had completed BlazeSports training programs and held an in-country leadership position during our project. Due to Mr Ziadeh’s delivering, during the 2 year funding period, successful events on behalf of BlazeSports, he has now been subsequently offered a position on staff at JFA. His new remit is to focus organizing soccer opportunities for people with disabilities across Jordan.Inside Jordan

Further to the successes found within soccer, other sports such as Boccia and Field Athletics continue to grow within Paralympic Club networks which, thanks partly to training provided by BlazeSports, are seen to be flourishing in Jordan. Feeding this club system are pupils from schools that have undertaken our Adaptive Physical Education workshops. However the job is far from over and there is much to do to improve sports opportunities and  ultimately the quality of life for persons with a disability in Jordan, but gradually improvements are beginning to become visible.

To celebrate the sustained success and progress of our sport for development project in Jordan, BlazeSports is releasing this video that highlight our work in the Jordan. The video features footage across a number of sport and social development area from disability and women’s’ rights to Syrian refugee and youth leadership empowerment. 

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

CPISRA Technical Development Workshops in Africa

BlazeSports’ Director of International Development, Stuart Sharp, as part of his role with CPISRA as Head of Technical Control recently visited Sierra Leone to deliver a CP seven a side workshop. The first of two CPISRA Technical Development Workshops, targeting the African Region, was held in Sierra Leone in October. The workshop, which was delivered in partnership with the Sierra Leone FA and the National Paralympic Committee, was attended by 42 participants and hosted at the country’s National Football Stadium. The content focused on coach education, classification and  development structures to help those attended to have the appropriate knowledge to build CP football programs in the future.

BlazeSports' Director of International Sport Development Stuart Sharp

BlazeSports’ Director of International Sport Development Stuart Sharp

Mr Unisa Deen Kargbo, who met with the CPISRA football committee members during the 2012 Paralympic Games, was instrumental in bring the course to Sierra Leone. He  said upon reflection  ” this workshop has been excellent in providing the tools which we need to take the game forward in our country. We will now use this newly gained knowledge to position our athletes into 4 teams to play within a league structure. It is of course our dream to reach the Paralympics one day and now the hard work begins”. 

Both the opening and closing ceremonies attached to the course were attended, by several important dignitaries including the country’s Minister of Sport. During the ceremony, which was broadcast on national television, the Minister pledged to support the development of CP football in the country and looked forward to seeing the national team in action for the first time. 

Rene Jurrius, one of the CPISRA course tutors said “I am really pleased with the level of organization and structure being provided to CP football in Sierra Leon . The players here have a great deal of potential and I feel with further development they could go on to represent their country strongly”.

René Jurrius, CPISRA tutor in front of workshop particuipants

René Jurrius, CPISRA tutor in front of workshop participants

Stuart Sharp,BlazeSports’ Director of International Development and  CPISRA’s Head of Technical Control for football was also in attendance and remarked “I hope that those who have completed this course become agents of change in the country. CP football, and sport in general, for persons with disabilities can provide multiple long term benefits to an individual’s quality of life. I hope that the enthusiasm shown by the course participants can be sustained and new opportunities can now be created for CP football in the country.  Following the strengthening of grassroot structures I hope to see Sierra Leone emerge from the African Region and be represented on the world stage”.

As part of a targeted approach to increase the number of counties participating from the African region, CPISRA will return to the continent in December to train a new set of coaches, referees and administrators but this time Tunisa.

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

BlazeSports – Haiti Cultural Exchange Experience

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. 




Posted in Camp, Featured, Global Initiatives, Haiti, International, Internships, News |

The power of sport crosses all cultures…reflections on Haiti

This is the second installment of the blog by BlazeSports’ intern Kit McCluskey

After a week of reflecting upon our trip to Haiti Josh, Tommy and I realized how much of our outlook on life and sport has changed. As Paralympians, Josh and Tommy have traveled all over the world, but have never been to a developing country like Haiti. I have never been out of the country so like them, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We knew the 2010 earthquake affected the country tremendously, but had no idea how much. All of us were surprised with the amount of poverty and destruction. Josh imagined there would be a lot of homelessness, but not nearly to the extent there actually was, especially two years later.

On our last day, driving through Port au Prince, there were times when I couldn’t look out the window anymore. The level of poverty is heartbreaking. For some reason, it really hit me when it started to rain (and when it rains, it pours). People were huddled underneath anything they could find and all they could do was wait for it to pass. I thought about all the times it poured at night during the week and imagined people trying to seek shelter. Many of their houses didn’t even have four walls.

We all agreed that we enjoyed the training sessions the most, because we were able to interact with our Haitian counterparts. Everyone was really engaged and eager to learn how to work with people with disabilities. This is where it all has to start – with people who want to make a difference. Tommy believes the most valuable thing we did was exchange knowledge about different sports and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities and how to make them happen. Living in a developing country, opportunities may seem limited, but given the right tools people can make a significant impact.

The Disability Sports Festival was such an amazing event to be a part of. It was great to see how many people came out to the Festival from all over the country to participate and learn about different sports. Having events like this one will only continue to increase awareness and provide inclusion throughout the communities and country. We saw many people who didn’t have any type of assistance like a wheelchair or crutches and had to crawl to get where they were going. Seeing the severity of this situation was a bit of shock.

As a sport management major, traveling to Haiti really opened my eyes to the different career paths I could take. Being part of the training sessions and the festival, I was able to experience first hand the possibilities of working with people with physical disabilities internationally. All that I experienced in one week in Haiti I would not have been able to learn in the classroom.

The three of us, Josh, Tommy, and I had an unbelievable experience and if given an opportunity like this again, we would take it. Even with the challenges the people of Haiti have to face everyday it was incredible to see how everyone is able to adapt and continue on with their lives. With the short time we were there, we believe we started to make a difference and we can’t wait to see how Haiti will continue to grow in disability sport and as a country.

Posted in Blog, Global Initiatives |