Since being launched at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has been fundamental in the growth of Para sports in the Americas.
Several programmes and workshops were held across the continent over the years, training hundreds of professionals, identifying new promising athletes and promoting Para sports.
As we approach the Americas Paralympic Committee’s (APC) 20th anniversary on 1 August, the Agitos Foundation work’s impact on the Americas comes at No.6 at the APC Top 20 Moments in History.
In the lead-up to the Toronto 2015 Parapans, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapans, the Agitos Foundation implemented a series of ‘Road to…’ initiatives to raise awareness of Para sports.
Over 20 regional leaders were trained; they later multiplied their knowledge in their countries. A significant number of NPCs also applied for the Agitos Foundation’s Grant Support Programme, delivering workshops in different countries.
Brazil played a mentoring role in this process, offering financial and human support.
“We transfer our knowledge and experiences to the other countries in the region, not only in the technical and sporting level, but also when it comes to organisational management,” said Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) Sports Director Alberto Martins.
Colombia, one of Brazil’s beneficiaries, followed in their footsteps.
In 2016, the Colombian Paralympic Committee (CPC) organised a workshop called ‘Talento Latino’ (Latin Talent) in Bogota to explain the process they implemented to identify young talents from the grassroots, to representatives from Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru.
“Thanks to the effort made by many people and institutions, Colombian athletes have enjoyed success at recent competitions and the country has become a role model,” explained CPC Sports Director David Acosta.
Another country who, with the help of the Agitos Foundation, has acted as mentor for its neighbouring countries has been Cuba.
In March 2016, Cuba organised a training camp for coaches and athletes from the region with the support of the Agitos Foundation. One year later, a record nine Central American and Caribbean countries participated in the Youth Parapans in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Shenely Tromp, who won Aruba’s first medal ever at a Paralympic, Parapan or Youth Parapan at Sao Paulo 2017, and Dominican Republic’s Youth Parapans athletics multiple-medallist Manuela Santana enjoyed their first international experience in Cuba.
“To help other countries is part of the Cuban identity,” said Valdes Rodriguez. “We want to share what we know with the countries from Latin America and the world who need help.”