Moscow, Russia, hosted the first conference for the implementation of an awareness programme for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
The theme of the conference, organized by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee and the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU), was "National Programme to raise awareness of the Russian Federation citizens on the Paralympic Games and Paralympic values 2011 - 2014: Issues and Challenges".
The President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko and the vice president of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RCC), Anatoly Tsarik attended the conference as speakers.
Furthermore, representatives from Russian state authorities and associations for people with a disability participated in the event together with Sochi 2014 Olympic partners and ambassadors, including Paralympic champions, Olesya Vladykina and Sergey Shilov.
The participants shared their views on what is needed to raise awareness within the Russian society of the Paralympic Games and Paralympic values, to create a barrier-free environment in the city of Sochi and then to transfer the knowledge and experience to other regions of Russia.
The results of video-interviews with the residents of Sochi were also presented at the conference. The interviews were conducted by Sochi 2014 volunteers and by participants of the multimedia project, "Sochi Reporter" within the framework of the "Sochi without barriers" plan.
Amongst others, owners of city restaurants, cafes, museums and other public facilities took part in the survey. The results showed that the participants had a limited level of awareness of the Paralympic themes and ethics of communication with people with a disability. However, the majority of respondents admitted the need for a barrier-free environment to be created in Sochi through the introduction of special equipment for people with a disability in public areas around the city.
President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko said:
"What we do to raise social awareness of this issue and to encourage young people to promote Paralympic values is being one of the most important elements within this program.
“During the preparation for the 2014 Games in Sochi, we are not only drawing attention to the Paralympic theme, but also attempting to shift society’s perceptions of people living with disabilities in our country as a whole. Our main task is to change the attitude of Russian society to the group of more than 13 million Russians who currently live with disabilities.
“The Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi will provide a unique opportunity to learn lessons from the world experience to achieve the further integration of people with disabilities into Russian society.”
The conference in Moscow was the first in a series of similar events scheduled to be held by the end of 2010. It is anticipated that their outcomes will lead to a detailed plan being formulated for a comprehensive programme to increase public awareness of the Russian Federation on the Paralympic Games and Paralympic values, scheduled to start in February 2011.