Inspiring the next generation of Para sport fans got underway on Tuesday (25 April) in Tokyo, Japan, where students at the Shinho primary school learned just why ‘impossible’ is only a word.
Created by the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) development arm the Agitos Foundation with the support from the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Centre and Japanese Paralympic Committee, I’m Possible was launched in February as a toolkit of resources designed to engage young people between the ages of 6-12 years in the Paralympic Movement.
On Tuesday, the first education programme in Japan was launched nationwide with an open class at the primary school.
More than 40 students from the sixth grade took two classes; one where they learned about the Paralympic sports and the next where they got to experience sitting volleyball in front of representatives from the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and Japan Sports Agency, as well as a large number of media.
"I was not as easy as expected, but we want try still,” said one school girl playing sitting volleyball.
Another school girl commented: “It was fun but it was difficult.”
Added another school boy: “I’m looking forward to the Tokyo Paralympic Games even more. I want to see a variety of sports."
Mr. Tomohiro Ishizuka, the teacher who ran the classroom, said: “This is well designed and user friendly toolkit.”
The current curriculum for schools in Tokyo involves Olympic and Paralympic education aiming to provide lessons of 35 hours a year in total.
Furthermore, to showcase the I’m Possible materials and first in school lessons, a symposium was held at the Nippon Foundation headquarters for interested teachers, municipal/prefecture education coordinators, universities and the media on Thursday (27 April). IPC Education Chairperson and Head of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Education shared the legacy of the programme across Great Britain. Miki Matheson, Paralympian and three-time gold medal winner carefully explained the Japanese version of the toolkit to the over 200 delegates;she has been leading the localisation in Japan.
The school visit and further implementation of the programme is being done as a partnership between Japanese Paralympic Committee, Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Centre, with support from Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.
A set of I’m Possible education materials have been distributed to both public and private primary schools in Japan for free. The same set of education materials will be available on the website of Tokyo 2020 for free download soon.
I’m Possible’s name is inspired by an iconic moment from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
During the Closing Ceremony, the word ‘impossible’ appeared floating from the roof the stadium. A wheelchair user then appeared, faced with the challenge of climbing a 15m long rope to reach the top of the lettering. When he got there he became a flying apostrophe between the letter ‘I’ and ‘m’ in ‘Impossible’ showing the world people can achieve anything.
I’m Possible will begin pilot implementations in two additional countries in May, with the international version in English, Spanish and French to be launched later in 2017.