The Paralympics started this week in Japan and we are in complete awe of the athletes competing! There’s 242 athletes on Team USA with 78 colleges/universities represented, 50% of those athletes have previously competed on the collegiate level -- amazing!
According to the International Paralympic Committee, “Sport for athletes with an impairment has existed for more than 100 years, and the first sport clubs for the deaf were already in existence in 1888 in Berlin. It was not until after World War II however, that it was widely introduced. The purpose of it at that time was to assist the large number of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during wartime. In 1944, at the request of the British Government, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain, and in time, rehabilitation sport evolved to recreational sport and then to competitive sport.” The Mandeville games turned into the Paralympic Games with the first taking place in Rome, Italy in 1960.
Colleges and universities have long supported athletes with impairments, many of which work in conjunction with the IPC in The Paralympians Made Here Campaign. According to its website, “Competitive sport opportunities for student athletes with disabilities are on the rise across the collegiate landscape. In addition to integrated opportunities within athletic departments, some programming is housed across campus departments, including club sports, recreational sports, student services, disability services or other university departments. The Paralympians Made Here campaign is a first-of-its-kind cobranding pilot that allows colleges and universities to use USOPC intellectual property to celebrate their Paralympic footprints. The campaign aims to increase awareness around Paralympic athletes who are currently competing or have competed in our country’s intercollegiate athletics system through both integrated and adapted opportunities.”
There are over 150 colleges and universities who are part of the campaign, and they strive to develop and promote inclusive and adaptive collegiate programs. The Paralympians Made Here Campaign provides all of the participating institutions invaluable resources for how to create a more inclusive athletic program for athletes on campus.
We will be glued to our televisions from now until September 5th watching these athletes compete in some incredibly adaptive ways. Is your college or university a participant in The Paralympians Made Here Campaign? Do you know an athlete currently competing in the Tokyo Paralympics? Let us know in the comments!
Congratulations to all of the athletes!
Cover Photo Courtesy of the International Paralympic Committee Flikr Account