U.S. Ambassador to Uganda to launch USAID’s Sports for Youth with Disabilities Initiative with BlazeSports International

USAID’s Sports for Youth with Disabilities Initiative is a 36-month sport development and health project in Kampala and Gulu. The project’s goal is to contribute to the improved physical literacy and the increased inclusion of children with physical disabilities in sport and recreation programs in the community. Physical literacy is the ability, confidence and desire to be physically active for life. This is a growing movement across the globe linked to better health, prevention of chronic health conditions, and improved physical activity. The initiative will host eight training workshops from 2017-2019 that equip 240 local leaders in Uganda on inclusive strategies to engage youth with physical disabilities through sport and activity. Trainings hosted in Kampala and Gulu will be followed by inclusive sports festivals for the children with and without disabilities (reaching nearly 1,000 children) as an opportunity for trained leaders to implement learned skills and to promote positive messaging regarding individuals with physical disabilities.

For Immediate Release
For more information contact: uganda@blazesports.org

U.S. Ambassador to Uganda to launch USAID’s Sports for Youth with Disabilities Initiative with BlazeSports International in Kampala on January 20, 2017

Atlanta (January 20 2017) – U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac will officially launch USAID’s Sports for Youth with Disabilities Initiative during an Adaptive Sports Summit on January 20, 2017 in Kampala. The two-day Summit – a key component of the initiative – convenes key leaders and stakeholders committed to improving the lives of children and youth with disabilities in Uganda. The three-year initiative is led by BlazeSports International and the Uganda Paralympic Committee and made possible due to the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ambassador Malac noted that, “Right now, nearly 2.5 million Ugandan children – more than 13 percent overall – live with some form of disability. If Uganda is to meet its development potential, we need to provide opportunities to help these children become productive and valued members of society. And we can start by working together to make these children healthier, more physically active, and more empowered in their everyday lives.”

The Adaptive Sports Summit will be held January 19-20, 2017 in Kampala at the Sports View Hotel. The Summit will convene leaders in fields related to disability, sport and physical activity, including community-based organizations, schools and government agencies. Participants will draft a Call to Action Plan at the Summit, which aims to contribute to improved physical activity, participation, inclusion and physical literacy among Ugandan children with physical disabilities, especially girls.

Mpindi Bumali, President of the Uganda National Paralympic Committee and main in-country partner said, “The Plan will build on Uganda’s current strengths and gaps related to inclusion and access to adaptive sport programs. It will identify strategies for various sectors to work together to improve children’s health in Uganda.” Once completed, the Plan will be shared widely with a focus on gathering support from various leaders to take on various aspects of the Plan. A second Summit will be held in 2019 to document project results and implementation of the Plan.

“BlazeSports International is honored to be working with USAID/Uganda, the Uganda National Paralympic Committee and other in-country leaders to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion and ultimately improve access to quality inclusive sport and physical activity programs for kids with disabilities, especially girls, in the country,” said Cynthia Frisina, Executive Director of BlazeSports.

USAID’s Sports for Youth with Disabilities Initiative is a 36-month sport development and health project in Kampala and Gulu. The project’s goal is to contribute to the improved physical literacy and the increased inclusion of children with physical disabilities in sport and recreation programs in the community. Physical literacy is the ability, confidence and desire to be physically active for life. This is a growing movement across the globe linked to better health, prevention of chronic health conditions, and improved physical activity.

The initiative will host eight training workshops from 2017-2019 that equip 240 local leaders in Uganda on inclusive strategies to engage youth with physical disabilities through sport and activity. Trainings hosted in Kampala and Gulu will be followed by inclusive sports festivals for the children with and without disabilities (reaching nearly 1,000 children) as an opportunity for trained leaders to implement learned skills and to promote positive messaging regarding individuals with physical disabilities.

About BlazeSports International
A legacy organization of the 1996 Paralympic Games hosted in Atlanta, BlazeSports International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers children and adults with physical disabilities through adaptive sport and recreation. As a USAID registered Private Voluntary Organization with support from the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, BlazeSports International has worked alongside project partners to launch new sport for social change initiatives and strengthen existing programs in Brazil, Egypt, Haiti, Jordan, Russia, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.

For more information, please contact uganda@blazesports.org or visit www.blazesports.org.

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Posted in International, News |

BlazeSports takes Brazil with “Sports for All”

“Sports for All”: Empowering People with Disabilities to Lead an Active Lifestyle is a two-year project seeking to improve the health and quality of life for Brazilians with disabilities. This is achieved through participation in sport and physical activity while increasing public awareness of the right to sport for people with disabilities.

BlazeSports International has returned to Brazil this month to host BlazeSports USAID “Sports For All” programming. This is the final installment of a two-year program seeking to improve the health and quality of life for Brazilians with disabilities.

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Posted in Featured, International, News |

“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 |

BlazeSports and USAID launch Sports for All Initiative in Brazil

US Ambassador posing with Boccia athletes

US Ambassador posing with Boccia athletes

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.

Cynthia Frisina and Ana Palla-Kane speak to guest

BlazeSports Executive Director, Cynthia Frisina and project partner Dr. Ana Palla-Kane

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.”  

US Ambassador Liliana Ayalde learning how to play blind soccer with 2004 Athens paralympics gold medalist Anderson Dias

US Ambassador Ayalde trying blind soccer Paralympic Gold Medalist Anderson Dias

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.

Posted in Featured, 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. 

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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 |