Diverse interaction in #ProudParalympian at Toronto 2015

Athletes from different sports and backgrounds shared their thoughts on living the Paralympic values. 29 Aug 2015
Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the closing of Toronto 2015

Spectators and athletes alike celebrated the closing of Toronto 2015 in Nathan Philip Square.

Ⓒ©2015 Jon Blacker

“I dream for equality in Latin America for all people with disabilities, without barriers."

Held for the first time at a multi-sport event, Proud Paralympian – the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) pilot education programme – saw a diverse range of ideas shared, and athletes engaged on how to live out the Paralympic values and share the Paralympic Movement at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games (7-15 August).

Close to 700 athletes were engaged to learn more about the Paralympic values.

Athletes shared their favourite Paralympic value on social media with their followers and their Paralympic dreams with their teammates and competitors through an interactive display in the Athlete’s Village. It followed the IPC’s vision: to enable para-athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world. Athletes’ dreams covered the whole spectrum, from qualifying for next year’s Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 to seeing equality and inclusion in their communities.

“I dream for equality in Latin America for all people with disabilities, without barriers,” Mexico’s Omar Osord said, whilst a Canadian athlete commented: “I wish for more para-sport in the media.”

A Venezuelan athlete shared his hopes for next summer’s Paralympic Games: “I dream to do my best to achieve my greatest performance and reach the mark for the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016.”

The programme was aligned with the voting area for the Americas Paralympic Committee athlete elections and WADA's anti-doping education programme. To complement the programme, mini-workshops took place both in English and Spanish during Toronto 2015, which was a new move from being held at development camps and single-sport events. During these workshops, athletes received tips on using social media, giving media interviews and sharing personal stories with the world.

The sessions also allowed the athletes to personally share their stories and achievements amongst each other. That in turn, generated discussion on what it means for them to live the Paralympic values – courage, determination, inspiration and equality – and their dreams as Paralympians. During the Parapan Ams, the workshops especially saw personal engagement with athletes from developing National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), such as Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and Argentina.

Proud Paralympian’s next pilot will take place at the IPC Powerlifting European Open Championships in Eger, Hungary, between 24-28 November.

Proud Paralympian workshops and outreach activities are aimed at Paralympians and those who aspire to compete at the Paralympic Games. It is designed to support athlete development both on and off the field of play, as individuals, competitors and active citizens.

Proud Paralympian can be found on Facebook and Twitter by searching for #ProudParalympian.