Lead your Clients into an Amazing 2008!
|Various images depicting sports at the US Paralympics: track and field, wheelchair basketball, and sit volleyball|
Are you a fitness professional with clients who are involved in sport already or who have had a history of sport participation? U.S. Paralympics' programs could offer an avenue to improved health, well being, and a prevailing sense of tremendous empowerment. Jennifer Schuble, one of the top cycling contenders and a hopeful to represent the United States in the 2008 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in college and had a history or sport participation at West Point Military Academy. In the September 11, 2007 issue of The Birmingham News, Ms. Schuble says 'I've been racing against able-bodied people for the last couple of years. I really didn't know about the Paralympics and what was available until after I became a member of the Lakeshore Foundation (http://www.lakeshore.org). I said, `I can do this.' Yet another example is Andy Yohe whose passion for hockey as a child continued after a double leg amputation at the age of 16. Little did he know that his love for hockey would lead to a trip to the Paralympics in Torino, Italy in 2006.
Or you may find that your client is more like Patrick Byrne. In 1992, Patrick Byrne lost a leg in a construction accident. Though he considered 'quitting' at that time, he made the positive choice to live fully and accept his disability, with the support of family and friends. Not an athlete prior to his accident, his involvement in sports since then has allowed him to reclaim his life and find meaning. As part of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Blackhawks sled hockey team, in 2002 he competed with this team to win the Paralympic gold medal.
If Paralympic dreams seem as outrageous as the hundred pound weight losses exploited in popular magazines, then take note that the programs U.S. Paralympics offer have a new mission in outreach and development. According to Michael P. Mushett, Director of Outreach & Development with the United States Olympic Committee, Paralympic Division 'Paralympic sport and academy programs can be used as a catalyst to overcome obstacles and barriers that individuals with disabilities may experience in life. U.S. Paralympics offers new tools and resources that can be used by fitness and recreation professionals in the community.' He also states that sport participation encompasses a variety of skill levels from the novice, to the emerging athlete, to the elite athlete. The key programs include the Paralympic Academy which offers state, national, and international events for ages 12-18 as well as the teachers and coaches who instruct them; the Paralympic Military Program which provides rehabilitation support and mentoring to American servicemen and women who have sustained physical injuries; and the Elite and National Team Program which leads the preparation and selection of Paralympic teams for 24 sports. As the second largest sporting event in the world, second only to the Olympic Games, the Paralympics offers events for athletes with physical disabilities of amputation, cerebral palsy/traumatic brain injury/stroke, spinal cord injuries, visual impairments, and other musculoskeletal and congenital abnormalities.
U.S. Paralympics manages extensive outreach initiatives, connecting with individuals with physical disabilities directly and supporting Paralympic organizations with program development. Increasing the availability of Paralympic sport programming across the country is a key goal of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Through partnerships with existing organizations, as well as the development of new programs, U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympic Division is targeting a program expansion into 250 American cities by 2012. To learn more about the U.S. Paralympics go to http://usparalympics.org/.
Something amazing awaits leaders in fitness and recreation on April 4-7, 2008 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. The Olympic University in collaboration with Blaze Sports is offering a conference on developing Paralympic leaders and programs. The Developing Amazing Leaders: An Inspiring, Educating and Empowering Conference for the Entire Paralympic Community highlights include:
- Coaching & Sport Specific Training
- Personal Leadership
- Skill Development through interactive sessions & participation in sport activities
- Program Management & Administration covering areas such as innovation, brand positioning, increasing revenue & growing your organization
- Inspiring keynote speakers
- Sharing of best practices from leading organizations throughout the country
- Access to U.S. Olympic Committee experts in key areas of organizational development & sports programming
- Roundtables, panel discussions and presentations on topics such as Military Programs, Program & Volunteer Recruitment, Research, Gaining Support from Athletes' Families, etc.
- Networking with key leaders from all areas of the Paralympic movement
- Recognition awards celebrating organization and individual success, as well as the 2008 Olympic & Paralympic Games in Beijing To register go to: http://www.olympicuniversity.org/conferences.htm.
Get your clients motivated for 2008. View the new advertisement by Nike featuring Paralympian Matt Scott: www.usparalympics.org.
Related NCHPAD factsheets:
- Paralympics http://www.ncpad.org/54/399/Paralympics
- The Rationale and Benefits of Sport Participation for Youth of All Abilities http://www.ncpad.org/397/2171/The~Rationale~and~Benefits~of~Sport~Participation~for~
- Parental Roles in Facilitating and Supporting an Active Lifestyle for a Child with a Disability http://www.ncpad.org/398/2175/Parental~Roles~in~Facilitating~and~Supporting~an~Active~
For comments and feedback, please feel free to contact Amy Rauworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.