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. 

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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 |

BlazeSports continues its sport for development work in Haiti

On Friday, March 21st a group of 18 coaches, community leaders, sport professionals gathered at the Centre for Research and Training for Economic and Social Development (CRESFED) for a Sport for Development workshop, facilitated by BlazeSports and Kennesaw State University. The participants had the opportunity to learn about ways in which sport can be use to achieve inclusion in schools and address social issues in Haiti. Dr. Sherrill Hayes, Director of the Masters of Science in Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, facilitated a roundtable where participants had a chance to not only learn from each other but left with concrete action steps to implement in their communities

photo2  “The UNOSDP funded training hosted by Fondation Gerard Pierre-Charles and BlazeSports America was a top-notch professional event. It was energizing to be in a room filled with Haitian professionals from different government Ministries and local NGOs. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn from the trainers,  share and learn from each other was the most encouraging aspect of the day-long workshop for me.  The whole process was facilitated by the instantaneous interpretation conducted by two interpreters and heard through headsets. This application of technology made the training flow quickly without the need for frequent pauses. The participants demonstrated their comprehension of the content by engaging with the trainers and having challenging discussions with each other about both the issues facing and the possibilities for sport for development and peace in Haiti. In contrast to many workshops, this group had more energy by the end of the day and was ready to continue the plans they had developed during the day. Thank you to all the project partners and all the Haitian participants for a transformative experience.” – Sherrill Hayes, Director of the Masters in Science in Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University

 

 “The workshop was able to remind each participant the power of sports , not just running every day in the news with large global elitephoto3 athletes with large salaries and a whole industry behind it, but also the other sports, which are performed by anonymous people , who practiced in the streets , squares , on the beaches and in the mountains. That practiced by boys and girls without athletic and muscular bodies , seniors , people with disabilities , ourselves, the sport in which one character is and where winning is not the goal , which educates and forge values, improving health, building citizens , sport for all, which is finally a vector of social development.” – Daniel Pierre-Charles, Director of Youth and Sport Programs at the Foundation Gérard Pierre-Charles

As part of BlazeSports initiative in Haiti, the first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace will be celebrated on April 6th. In partnership with the Ministry of Youth Sport and Civic Engagement (MJSAC, acronym in French) BlazeSports and the Foundation Gérard Pierre-Charles  will organize an inclusive sports festival, with children with physical, sensory, intellectual and children without disabilities. In this festival the youth will discover various Paralympic sports such as boccia, sitting volleyball, and games that allow them to improve the perception, coordination and conditioning of the participants with and without disabilities. It will also be an opportunity to raise awareness of disability rights and promote the values ​​associated with sport for all, such as solidarity, environment, fair-play, cooperation and respect.

Posted in Featured, Haiti, International, Programs, Training and Education |

BlazeSports Haitian alumni put theory into practice

Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship

Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship

BlazeSports was back in Haiti for a week in October as part of their ongoing United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) funded project. A busy week of events and training culminated with the National Disability Sport Festival hosted in Merchand Dessalines.

Watch BlazeSports’ week in Haiti – October 10-18 2013

 The week of activity kicked off by an Amputee Soccer Workshop, where 31 soccer coaches and enthusiasts attended the event. Coach Derek Arnaud, member of the US Soccer Athletes Council, who supported BlazeSports staff in delivering the workshop said, “It was amazing to see the enthusiasm and desire of the Haitian coaches to make a difference to their country and players. There are without doubt many obstacles in the way of developing soccer in this country but I am thankful I was given this opportunity by BlazeSports to, in a small way, help assist the development process.”

Following the workshop, BlazeSports staff had the opportunity to watch the semifinal matches of the Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship in Mirebalais. The Championship was sponsored by the UNOSDP disability sport project and organized by the Haitian Amputee Soccer Federation and BlazeSports.

On October 17th, a festive day in Haiti, over 500 persons with disabilities participated in the National Disability Sport Festival organized by the Haitian Paralympic Committee. BlazeSports’ previously trained coaches planned, organized, and delivered the activities at this event. The participants were divided in group of 50 and had the opportunity to experience recreational games, powerlifting, table tennis, basketball, sit volleyball, and athletics.

Concluding the festivities was the final of the Haitian Amputee Soccer Championship won by Team Zaryen. BlazeSports’ intern Sam Zapatka was in Haiti for the first time and recognized “it was incredible to see first-hand the power sport has on people with physical disabilities and its ability to bring people together”

It was a very successful week for disability sports in Haiti. BlazeSports staff were delighted to witness, throughout the week, the leadership skills of BlazeSports in-country alumni who were trained previously thanks to a US Department of State SportsUnited project. Stuart Sharp, BlazeSports Director of International Development, evaluated the successful week in Haiti, “It is clear there is an emergence of new leaders with positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities in Haiti. There is no doubt there is still a long way to go however with this new generation comes a new opportunity for hope and future for Paralympic sport and those with disabilities in the country to realize their full potential.”

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

BlazeSports is Heading Back to Haiti

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BlazeSports will be back in Haiti from October 10th to 17th  as part of the Disability Sport Project in Haiti funded by the UN Offices on Sport for Development and Peace. This project has served over 2000 Haitians with disabilities since its establishment in October 2011. 

During a week long trip, BlazeSports will deliver an amputee soccer workshop, host an amputee soccer tournament, deliver a mini disability sport festival at a partner school, and will partner with the Haitian Paralympic Committee in hosting a National Disability Sport Festival for over 500 Haitians with disabilities.

In addition to these activities, BlazeSports will be reuniting with the 18 alumni of the SportUnited cultural exchange that took place in Atlanta this past May. The 6 emerging leaders who were a part of the SportUnited funded project will be engaged in the BlazeSports’ activities in October. While the 12 kids and youth that travelled to Atlanta will take part in the National Disability Festival. 

Posted in Featured, Haiti, International, News |

U.S. Ambassador in Haiti welcomes BlazeSports participants to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince

 

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White met at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with the 12 Haitian youth with disabilities that had participated in the BlazeSports cultural exchange program. The youth and six adult coaches who accompanied them shared their experiences of joining a group of American youth with disabilities in specialized sporting and leadership activities and the 2013 BlazeCamp. The Ambassador congratulated the Haitian participants on their achievement and encouraged them to continue to use sports as a means to excel personally and to promote greater inclusion in Haiti for the physically disabled.

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The cultural exchange was funded by the U.S. Department of State – Spots United and coordinated by BlazeSports America.  The Haitian participants ranged in age from 11 to 19 and came from Port-au-Prince, Mirebalais and Port-de-Paix. The program’s goal are to give new sporting skills to youth with disabilities and to develop their self-confidence and leadership skills to help them advance their personal goals and to act as advocates for greater inclusion of the physically disabled in their home country.

Posted in Haiti, 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.

Howdown 2

 

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.

Group

 

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