With less than two years to go before Canada hosts the largest Parapan Am Games ever, parasport in the Americas and Caribbean is receiving a major boost.
The TO2015 Parapan American Development Program will help National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) in 28 countries and territories:
*build their expertise in sport management
*strengthen coaching in athletics, goalball and swimming
*develop national and international classifiers for physically and visually impaired athletes
*facilitate access to specialized sport equipment.
The program was warmly received recently by delegates at the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC) General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Canada has long been a leader in the Paralympic Movement,” said Ian Troop, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).
“This innovative program — which is a first in the history of the Parapan Am Games — will ensure the TORONTO 2015 Games leave a lasting legacy in the Americas and Caribbean by promoting inclusion and increasing participation in parasport.”
The TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games will take place August 7–14, 2015, and feature 1,500 athletes from 28 countries and territories competing in 15 sports, all of which will be qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. They will also feature the Parapan Am debut of wheelchair rugby and the return of football seven-a-side to the program for the first time since 2007.
The TO2015 Parapan American Development Program is divided into three pillars. The first — the Agitos Foundation Sessions— is a joint project between TO2015 and the Agitos Foundation, the International Paralympic Committee’s development arm.
“The next four years — with the TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games and Rio 2016 Paralympics —present a huge opportunity for the Paralympic movement to grow in size and scale in the Americas, especially in terms of participating countries and athletes at major events,” said Georg Schlachtenberger, director of the Agitos Foundation.
“The TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Development Program is a great initiative to help achieve the goal of growing the movement in the Americas and the whole Paralympic movement is grateful to TO2015 for making this initiative happen.
“By making our NPCs stronger in the region, it will help increase participation and, in turn, performance at major events such as the TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games.”
The Agitos Foundation Sessions, which will feature workshops in several locations in the Americas and Caribbean, will start in December and run until September 2014.
“Canada looks forward to welcoming the very best para-athletes and coaches from the Americas and the Caribbean to this major sporting event,” said Bal Gosal, federal Minister of State (Sport). “Our government is proud to support these Games and applauds this great initiative by the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Organizing Committee and the Agitos Foundation to promote and strengthen parasport in the Americas.”
In addition to the Agitos Foundation Sessions, the NPCs will also have up to $5,000 in funding to purchase sport equipment at the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games’ chef de mission seminar marketplace in the fall of 2014.
There will also be funding and opportunities available to attend classification training programs in collaboration with test events for the 2015 Parapan American Games. This will increase the number of international certified classifiers in the Americas and Caribbean.
“Ontario is proud to welcome athletes of all abilities who will inspire and elevate parasport competitions in the global arena for the largest Parapan American Games in 2015,” said Michael Chan, provincial Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games. “By attracting the world’s top para-athletes to Ontario, the Parapan Am Games will give us all an opportunity to celebrate their athleticism, their achievements and their determination. These Games will also leave a proud and enduring legacy of parasport infrastructure that will make our communities more accessible and more inclusive for future generations.”
For the first time in the history of the Parapan Am Games, TO2015 will also provide a support grant to each participating NPC to contribute towards their travel costs for attending the Games in Canada.
“As the Host City of the 2015 Parapan Am Games, the City of Toronto is excited about this initiative”, said Toronto City Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore), the Mayor’s Pan Am Games Champion. “Programs like this, which support para-thletes and increase their opportunities to compete on an international level, are to be applauded. In Toronto, we support parasport and are proud to invest in the development of world-class, accessible facilities such as the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre which will serve the parasport community through the 2015 Games and beyond. We look forward to welcoming these amazing athletes to Toronto in August 2015.”