The ongoing education of Australians on the value of Paralympic sport is about to be revolutionized.
Having reached more than 320,000 primary and secondary school students since its inception in 2007, the Australian Paralympic Committee’s Paralympic Education Programme (PEP) will soon be launched into the nation’s tertiary institutions.
For the past five years, PEP has successfully developed awareness of the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes by assisting teachers and students to gain an understanding of disabilities, health issues, social issues and the value of sport to the community.
And with the program continuing to make a positive impact at a primary and high school level in every state and territory, the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) is set to take the program to new and exciting heights.
APC Chief Executive Jason Hellwig said expanding PEP into Australia’s tertiary institutions will cater for the ever-growing demand for knowledge about the Paralympic movement.
“The Paralympic Education Programme has become such an important element of our business because of its broad reach and its ongoing ability to develop awareness of Australian Paralympic Sport among students,” Hellwig said.
“It is yet another way in which the Australian Paralympic Committee is connecting with the community. We are a sporting organization, but we’re seeing that the work we are doing across a number of areas is helping to positively change perceptions of people with a disability.
“Excellence, empowerment and inspiration are some of the values that drive the Paralympic Movement, which we know all translate well into the education system. This is why our Paralympic Education Programme continues to resonate in such a positive way.
“We’re really delighted that we now have the opportunity to engage with more Australians right across the education spectrum, from primary and high schools through to universities.
“Through our development and delivery of new quality resources, outreach programmes and ongoing support for participants, the APC aims to expose a new generation to the inspiration of Paralympic Sport.”
As part of the developing programme, the APC is currently working with universities to install Paralympic focused programs within tertiary courses, primarily in the fields of human movement studies, physiotherapy, health sciences, and education.
University students will also be given more opportunity to pursue careers within the Paralympic sports industry which continues to experience huge growth.
“The response we have had from Universities at this stage has been incredible,” Hellwig said.
“What this programme offers cannot be delivered by any other organization in Australia.”
Steve Georgakis, Programme Director of Personal Education at the University of Sydney, believes the partnership is a step in the right direction for promoting inclusive education to student teachers.
“Sometimes there is lip service given to inclusive education at universities. The University of Sydney’s involvement with the Australian Paralympic Committee demonstrates that universities and organizations like the Australian Paralympic Committee can work together to produce effective learning outcomes on a number of different levels in education,” Georgakis said.
Using the existing ‘PEP Talk’ model, which currently sees Paralympians conduct school visits to reinforce what PEP students have been learning in the classroom, a similar process will be one of key features within the new tertiary component of PEP.
“PEP Talks are an extremely popular part of our current education programme, and we anticipate that will be the case within the expansion as well,” Hellwig said.
“Elite Paralympic athletes and experts from the Australian Paralympic Movement are being enlisted to lead university lectures, tutorials, Paralympic Sport demonstrations and class discussions which will make this program even more unique.”