The next generation of Para sports fans in Armenia are being inspired thanks to the work of the country’s National Paralympic Committee (NPC) and the Agitos Foundation.
The NPC has been successfully implementing I’mPOSSIBLE, a toolkit of resources used to help engage young people between the ages of 6-12 years with the Paralympic Movement.
Ruzanna Sargsyan, the Secretary General of NPC Armenia, has been leading the project and said that the toolkit is an excellent supplement to their Grant Support Programme (GSP) project, in which the NPC received funds to help in raising awareness of the Paralympic Movement in their nation.
NPC Armenia first introduced the I’mPOSSIBLE project in November 2016, and held a successful Paralympic Sports Festival in May, where Para athletes gathered to showcase their sports, and school children had the opportunity to watch the competitions as well as engage with the athletes. The same school children who attended the Paralympic Sports Festival have also been experiencing I’mPOSSIBLE in their schools.
The students’ response to what they learned through I’mPOSSIBLE was overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s important that people with disabilities are included in sport because it gives them the opportunity to participate and be equal,” one child wrote.
Another student commented: “Sport helps us to cooperate and understand people with disabilities because they can showcase their abilities through sport.”
A fellow classmate added: “When a person with a disability is engaged with sport, society focuses on their abilities not their disabilities.”
The process of inspiring the upcoming generation of Para sports fans is ongoing, as the project is also being introduced in four more schools and also four universities in Yerevan.
But the hope is to further expand the programme across Armenia, even to remote, rural areas of the country.
“Everyone participates in the project with excitement and great interest,” Sargsyan said. “The most exciting thing is that they started to think about the abilities of people with disabilities and very often express the idea of equal opportunities and equality. They understood that human abilities have no limits. I would like to extend a big thank you to the Agitos Foundation for financial support to this project and for the I’mPOSSIBLE toolkit.”
The International Paralympic Committee, through the support of its development arm, the Agitos Foundation, intends to launch the international version of I’mPOSSIBLE in English, Spanish and French by the end of 2017. Development of the I’mPOSSIBLE programme is being supported by the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Centre and Japanese Paralympic Committee and will feature as a key part of the Japanese wide education programme in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.