The second and final day of the Inclusion Summit was action-packed with speakers and panelists leading the discussion on inclusion. Craig Spence, Head of Brand and Communications, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) began the session by saluting the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
In his opening speech, the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, underlined: “Quality rehabilitation and accessibility are the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport and training. -of the. WHO is working with countries around the world to increase access to services for people with disabilities as part of each country’s journey towards universal health coverage.
Rémy Roux CEO, Director General of AFD, spoke of the importance of investing in basic Parasport projects. “We turned 80 yesterday and it was very inspiring. One of the TED talks we had was specifically about sport and development. The conference shed light on a blind African soccer team and its journey. Roux quoted the famous quote from the former IPC president Xavi González, ‘The Olympics are where heroes are created. The Paralympics are where the heroes come from.
Sergio Diaz Granados from the Latin American Development Bank highlighted the role of organizations like his. “There is no doubt that development banks have a fundamental role in inclusion through the sports agenda. But the first step is to understand the relationship between sport and development. I believe that sport is not only a human right, but also a driving force for transforming societies and providing access to other human rights.
Anne H??ry from Handicap International explained that “the organization is an active member of the development and international consortium Disability Alliance. We work in situations of conflict and poverty exclusion crises in around 50 countries around the world and we use inclusive community-based sport activities in development and crisis contexts with a particular focus on children and young people residing in host communities and camps.
Facundo Chavez, United Nations Human Rights and Disability Advisor, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained how the transformation of the lives of 1.2 billion people must begin in the local community.
An insightful session took place with notable Paralympians who brought their stories to life. Husnah Kukundakwe, a Ugandan Paralympian, explained: “When I was five years old, I realized that I was different from others. Although embarrassed at first, I soon realized that you cannot hide when swimming. Sport has helped me change my life. It helped me to have more confidence in myself.
Kukundakwe made her Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and at 14 she was the youngest athlete to compete at the Games. At Tokyo 2020, she became the only second Ugandan Paralympic swimmer. Through his hard work, Kukundakwe received the ‘Most Inspirational Athlete of the Year’ award by the Uganda Swimming Federation and ‘Most Disciplined Athlete of the Year’ by the National Paralympic Committee of the Uganda.
“I want to share my story to inspire other kids to join the sport and fight hard to reach the Paralympic Games,” said the swimmer. Kukundakwe has already done a lot to help young people transform their lives. Speaking passionately about it, she added: “I am thinking of creating an organization that is already encouraging young people to take up sport. I’m actually thinking of launching a series like this on Instagram where I talk about kids and sports.
British Paralympian Liz Johnson has admitted that sport has changed her life. “It provided me with an outlet to explore my competitive nature,” she said. Of course, success stories are full of challenges and this is also true of these competitors. “I think the barriers that exist are often company and process related. Where sport has helped me, I almost had to prove to them in the sporting environment what I was capable of to get them to notice me in other areas, ”Johnson said.
Discussing the impact of the Paralympic Games on transforming the lives of people with disabilities, Johnson explained that when you’re looking for a role model, you’re not really looking for someone who looks like you. It is the characteristics of the person that appeal. “Many people with disabilities have had so much negativity that they almost bear the burden of ignoring others. It is therefore our responsibility as a community to rebuild them. “
An invigorating discussion on the role of assistive technology (AT) as a vehicle for the social inclusion of people with disabilities was moderated by Andy Stevenson. Marlou van Rhijn, Paralympian from the Netherlands, former sprint runner who used the help of artificial carbon fiber transtibial limbs. The panel also welcomed Chapal Khasnabis, technical officer of the Disability and Rehabilitation team of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. He believes, “Access to high quality assistive products is a prerequisite for most para-athletes to compete and win. The positive image of para-athletes and the demand for high-quality assistive products make the assistive technology industry better and better with each Paralympic Games.
As the summit drew to a close, the route to take was discussed. Vladimir Cuk, International Disability Alliance, spoke about the World Summit on Disability to be held in February 2022. The summit will be mainly virtual and is expected to mobilize efforts for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In her closing speech, Bjørg Sandkjæ, the Norwegian Secretary of State mentioned that Paralympic athletes are among Norway’s greatest sporting heroes. “We look forward to working closely together to raise the bar and inspire ambitious new commitments in the run-up to the World Disability Summit. ”