United Through Sports (UTS) World Virtual Youth Festival finalists for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) 'Inclusive Sports' Challenge have been confirmed on 5 November following a review process by an expert panel of seven judges.
A total number of 138 applications from across all regions in the world were received for both the under-12 and under-18 categories during the two-week long application period. Youngsters needed to film themselves performing an exercise routine of their choice for 60 seconds maximum. Then they needed to spend 45 seconds to the camera explaining their motivation to participate in the challenge and what world leaders need to do to create a more accessible and inclusive future for all people.
"It has been a treat to watch the enthusiasm of youngsters around the world towards sports and listen to their optimistic and inspiring messages", said Indian Paralympic Committee President and Paralympic medallist Deepa Malik, who shared the judging panel with Para athletes, disability advocates and Paralympic leaders.
When reviewing the videos, judges followed a criteria based on inspiration, passion, dedication and commitment. They looked for creativity within the exercise routine, how well it was performed, the youngsters’ motivation to participate and the content of the message to world leaders.
Fellow judge Angelica Bernal, Colombian wheelchair tennis and world top 10, added: "Submissions were great; watching the commitment of so many kids and youngsters from across the planet to build a better future for all people, and showing their love for sport was incredible. Picking five for each category was very difficult."
The five finalists for each category are:
Harmonie-Rose Allen – UK
Hu Xiaoyao – China
Jiayin Lu – China
Luiz Henrique Santiago - Brazil
Sid Mathues – Belgium
Ana Fabiana Gutiérrez Silva – Peru
Arian Notretu – Romania
Clara Di Virgilio – Argentina
Mariana Rojas García - Mexico
Natalia Nikolaeva – Russia
Medal winners will be announced during the UTS World Virtual Youth Festival that will be hosted in Thailand between 20-22 November to coincide with the United Nations World Children’s Day.
More than 60 organisations, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IPC and Special Olympics, are supporting this event, which aims to engage the youth in sports and make a unified call to action towards a more inclusive and better tomorrow.
The festival will include virtual medal ceremonies, inspirational opening and closing ceremonies and will incorporate a vital platform of education by including an opening conference, panel discussions and workshops. Topics of focus will include: Peace through sport, Inclusion and non-discrimination, Athletes’ roles and responsibilities, Safeguarding and child protection among others.