Malawi’s recent success in parasport has not gone unnoticed and is making headlines across the African nation.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games saw visually impaired middle distance runner Taonele Banda, the country’s first and only Paralympian, compete in her second consecutive Games.
A few days later, during the closing ceremony, the Lilongwe LEA School in Malawi was recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for its commitment to the inclusion of people with disabilities and the successful implementation of the I’mPOSSIBLE education program.
At the end of September, a press conference was held at the Kamuzu Institute for Youth in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe to celebrate these achievements. Personalities from education and sports, and members of the national media were present.
Noel Mwango, director of special education for the Department of Education, said, “I tell the whole nation that when we say it’s possible, they should really take it seriously. These disabled children should not be kept in homes but go to school.
“Look at the innovation of Noel Kenani (ball with sound to include visually impaired classmates), who stood up for the nation in Japan and won this award for us as a nation. We are proud of what he has accomplished.
Lilongwe LEA School adopted the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality and applied them daily in their classrooms. I’mPOSSIBLE has had a strong impact on students’ self-esteem to realize their potential, breaking down barriers between students with and without disabilities and inspiring teachers to be encouraged by the changes seen in their students.
“The award is a testament to the school’s strong commitment 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.
Lilongwe LEA School will also receive an IPC grant to purchase sports equipment as it was unable to travel to Tokyo and attend the closing ceremony to receive this award.
Malawi Paralympic Committee Vice President Joseph Galanje added: “We have a double celebration, as the AFN but also as a nation of Malawi.
“Firstly because Taonele represented us and she managed to reduce her time. She is 10th in the world for the 1,500m race and 3rd in Africa. But we are also happy because our school, Lilongwe LEA won an international award for the innovation of the I’mPOSSIBLE program that our students have created.
The I’mPOSSIBLE program aims to spread Paralympic values and the vision of the Paralympic movement to young people around the world. Through inclusive education, it aims to challenge and change perceptions about how young people perceive people with disabilities, thereby creating a more inclusive society.
Lilongwe LEA School pupil Noel Kenani said: “I am very happy that we won because we the people are being considered because they say ‘what can these do…’ Here we have shown that we are capable of doing things.
Professor Mufunanji Magalasi of the University of Malawi added: “Thanks to this award, we are now on the map of the world of Paralympics and Paralympic sport.”