Despite being formally established as recently as 2012, and with only limited resources, the Agitos Foundation has created a huge impact.
More examples are included in the pages of our In Review 2012-15.
We are also delighted and encouraged when our seed funding attracts other external funding. For example, by making an initial investment of AUD 30,000 (EUR 20,400) in 2014, an additional AUD 660,000 (EUR 467,400) was invested into Para sport in Oceania by the Australian Government in order to develop athletes and potential leaders - an impressive 1:22 ratio.
Case study: Irma Khetsuriani:
“Without fencing my mother would still push me to be able to walk again. Now instead she is proud of me.”
At the age of 19, whilst studying English and IT in her home country Georgia, a fast growing tumour was found on Irma Khetsuriani’s spinal column.
Surgeons operated on the teenager but she lost the use of her legs. Khetsuriani spent the next two years deeply depressed and resenting her wheelchair.
But then she began rehabilitation. Meeting people in a similar situation helped Khetsuriani to be more positive.
It all began three years ago when a friend mentioned the Paralympic Games and Movement. Khetsuriani made a radical decision to leave her family behind, moving to Tbilisi to work as an office manager for the Georgian NPC.
That move set off a chain of events that would change Khetsuriani’s life forever, once again. Whilst working for the NPC and taking part in the Agitos Foundation’s WoMentoring project to get more women into position of influence in the Paralympic Movement, a volunteer recommended she try wheelchair fencing and Khetsuriani never looked back.
“When I am fencing I forget everything and the wheelchair is my partner,” she said.
Khetsuriani receives some financial support from the Ministry of Sport and Youth and the City of Tbilisi but it is mainly the bi-annual BP support that allows her to focus on sport.
She is one of the three BP sponsored athletes in Georgia and was intimately involved in awareness raising activities as part of the Agitos Foundation’s Grant Support Programme in 2015-16, also supported by BP.
Through the support and WoMentoring, NPC Georgia has become more professionalised. The new awareness of Para sport has helped them to push the rights and promote the abilities of people with impairments, influencing accessibility, employment rates and participation in sports.
“I made it – maybe not this qualification but my life.”
Case study: Paola Acuna
“My biggest dream is to win a medal at a Paralympic Games”
At fifteen-years-old Puerto Rican Paola Acuna has become one her country’s best future prospects.
Born without her left arm Acuna’s parents and her doctors agreed early on in her life that swimming would be an ideal sport for her.
At the same time, somewhere else in Puerto Rico, coach Lourdes Vega was thinking of improving her knowledge of Para swimming.
Vega, originally an able-bodied swimming coach, attended a training workshop in Mexico in 2014, ran by the Agitos Foundation and in partnership with the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games Organising Committee.
This helped her learn the “specific details that can help your swimmer to gain the 0.1 seconds needed to reach the medal.”
It was after this that Vega noticed Acuna swimming one day and became her coach, using what she had learnt to identify Acuna’s talent.
The Puerto Rico National Paralympic Committee (NPC) were also making efforts to develop. They participated in the Agitos Foundation’s Organisational Capacity Programme, which helps NPCs to build their resources and knowledge.
The culmination of all this work came at Toronto 2015, where Puerto Rico was represented by 29 athletes in comparison to four in 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Acuna was one of them. She was internationally classified and competed for the first time in her sports class.
In March 2016 Acuna also attended an Agitos Foundation multi-nations youth training camp with Vega in Cuba, supported by the Cuban Paralympic Committee and the German Foreign Office.
Now, the NPC is actively supported by a Member of Parliament. The government’s financial annual support has increased in recognition of their valuable work to drive social inclusion and people’s well-being through sport in Puerto Rico.
Acuna’s path and progress is an example of how developing athletes, coaches and NPCs can lead to great success and the growth of the Paralympic Movement in a country.