The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) recognized three schools and two athletes for their support of the I’mPOSSIBLE global Paralympic education program by presenting them with special prizes at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Launched on December 3, 2017 with the support of the Tokyo-based Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center, I’mPOSSIBLE is a program that aims to educate 6-18 year olds about Paralympic values and the Paralympic movement. To date, it is implemented in 37 countries, providing educational resources, lesson plans, worksheets and inspiring videos for teachers and learners.
The three schools and two athletes who have been recognized for their significant contribution to a more inclusive society by implementing I’mPOSSIBLE are:
• Best school in the host country: Kiyomidai Elementary School in Chiba, Japan
• Best school abroad: Lilongwe LEA School, Malawi
• Host Country School of Excellence: Chiba Prefecture School of Special Needs Education in Togane
• Recognition of male athletes: Lassam Katongo, Zambia
• Recognition of female athlete: Katarzyna Rogowiec, Poland
Rita van Driel, Chair of the Agitos Foundation Executive Committee and the I’mPOSSIBLE Award Selection Committee, said: “The I’mPOSSIBLE Awards recognize the exceptional work done by schools and athletes to advance inclusion in the world. their communities through the I’mPOSSIBLE school program. . Receiving such accolades at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, an event watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world, is our way of saying thank you for their efforts to change society. “
Best School Category in Host Country: Kiyomidai Elementary School, Chiba
The school embodies how the program can change the perceptions and attitudes of young people towards people with disabilities. I’mPOSSIBLE classes at school are extended to group work where young learners make plans to make their hometown more inclusive. The school is committed to advocating for greater inclusion with the mayor of its city thanks to the results of I’mPOSSIBLE.
Motoharu Kanno, teacher at Kiyomidai Primary School, said, “We are very honored to receive this wonderful award. As we continue to work on this project, we have seen how interesting and fascinating Paralympic education can be.
“One of the first changes we saw in children was a change in their view of people with disabilities. Previously, they had a negative image of people with disabilities as “pitiful”. However, after the I’mPOSSIBLE study program and watching the Paralympic Games, this perception changed to become positive. Seeing the Paralympics, the different Paralympic sports, and the courage of the athletes, the students began to think about their own strength and potential, and began to think about what they could do to make society a better place to live. everybody.
Best Foreign School Category: Lilongwe LEA School, Malawi
Lilongwe LEA School adopted the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality and applied them daily in their classrooms. The program had a strong impact on the self-esteem of the students to realize their potential. Shy youth increased their social activities and their willingness to work together inside and outside the classroom. I’mPOSSIBLE broke down barriers between disabled and non-disabled students, inspiring teachers to be encouraged by the changes seen in their students.
“The award is a testament to the school’s strong desire to take the lead in creating an inclusive society in Malawi,” said Charity Sondo, teacher at Lilongwe LEA School. “I’mPOSSIBLE is an essential tool in the fight against discrimination, while giving hope to millions of people with disabilities in Malawi and beyond. I’mPOSSIBLE fits naturally into school curricula, using simple, local and adaptable materials and ideas to train both teachers and learners, making coexistence a must for all.
“The I’mPOSSIBLE award reinforced the school’s decision to permanently integrate the program into its activities, using resources provided by central government, donors and the school itself. We are seeing the creation of a better community, all thanks to the I’mPOSSIBLE program. Lilongwe LEA School is proud to carry the torch in creating an inclusive community in Malawi.
Host Country School of Excellence: Chiba Togane Prefecture Special Needs Education School
Chiba Togane Prefecture Special Needs Education School has made remarkable efforts to prepare its learners for a diverse society through I’mPOSSIBLE. Based on I’mPOSSIBLE, its student working group adapted activities into events in which people from different backgrounds interact in their local community (e.g. people with / without disabilities, foreigners, elderly, etc. ). The school has also been identified as a model school for Olympic and Paralympic education by its prefecture since 2017.
Fumihiko Furukawa, teacher at Togane Special Needs Education School, said: “It is a great honor to receive this prestigious award. We would like to express our gratitude to the students, parents, teachers and school staff, the local community and all the people and organizations who have helped make this award possible.
“Having learned so much with I’mPOSSIBLE, the school brought new ideas for the future. Student confidence was boosted by I’mPOSSIBLE and we used the learning approach in a variety of learning situations. We believe that the real start of Paralympic education begins now, after Tokyo 2020, by leaving sustainable educational practices in schools and communities, so that we can build an inclusive society. “
Recognition of male athletes: Lassam Katongo, Zambia
The two-time Paralympian has supported the Paralympic movement in Zambia as a coach, board member and teacher. He is a teacher at a local high school and is passionate about teaching parasport and the values of the Paralympic movement to his students. I’mPOSSIBLE is one of the assets he has implemented to engage his students and make his country more inclusive.
In 2019, the Zambia National Paralympic Committee (PNC) received support from the Agitos Foundation to activate the program in cooperation with Sport for Tomorrow, a global sports initiative from Japan. I’mPOSSIBLE teacher trainings were conducted in July and December 2019 to train 145 teachers, coaches and volunteers.
Ⓒ James Varghese for IPC
“For me, being nominated, receiving this award means a lot. I will make sure that everywhere I go, in every corner of my country, to encourage young people to participate. Teachers, students, community leaders, everyone should receive a Paralympic education, and I’mPOSSIBLE is the right tool for that, ”Katongo said.
Through programs like I’mPOSSIBLE, the school system is committed to changing negative attitudes and perceptions for the better and a good number of people are targeted, allowing us to move faster in promoting an inclusive society for all.
Recognition of female athletes: Katarzyna Rogowiec, Poland
Rogowiec is a proud Paralympian committed to promoting the Paralympic movement. Nationally, she is recognized as a role model with excellent achievements in her sport. She won two goal medals in cross-country skiing at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Turin. His foundation has supported several athletes in their careers. At the world level, she was a member of the IPC Athletes Council (2006-2014) and the IPC Anti-Doping Committee (2010-2018).
Rogowiec said: “Twenty years ago Paralympic sport and the Paralympic movement changed my life the same way a farm accident changed my parents’ lives 40 years ago, when I was 3 years old. years, ”Rogowiec said. my life and my athletic career path have proven how important the i’mPOSSIBLE program is to not letting children with disabilities wait decades for a chance to change their lives.
“I am proud and happy to share my personal and Paralympic story to spread this essential message: I am POSSIBLE!”