Whilst the London 2012 Paralympics didn’t receive the coverage it deserved here in America, we’ve been busy ensuring that the legacy of London 2012 does make a big impact in Haiti.
Our partners in Haiti have been busy finishing off the final touches of a new Inclusive Sports Center for North Haiti which is due to open on 26th October 2012. It’s going to be a fantastic opening, and a number of THHT volunteers are looking forward to being in Haiti for the great event.
Almost 10% of Haitian’s have a disability, yet the stigma associated with those who have a disability is harrowing, with individuals often being labelled as ‘worthless.’ In a report undertaken by the Haiti Hospital Appeal last year, they found that 77% of the families THHT help support who have children with disabilities face discrimination or abuse, 93% of which face such abuse on a daily basis.
Since the opening of the Rehabilitation Center in North Haiti last year, there’s been a shared desire to overcome this stigmatization, and one way we’re looking to do that is through sport. The hope is to inspire people with disabilities, challenge the stigma within Haiti, and encourage the international community to respond more appropriately to disability care in the developing world.
In partnership with the United Nations, HHA have constructed a purpose built sports center that includes a multipurpose court for wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basket ball and sitting volley ball. There’s also an indoor gym with table tennis, and other gym equipment. The center will encourage positive inclusive training sessions between able bodied and disabled athletes, from a grass roots level, all the way to competitive standard. The United Nations state that, ‘the universal popularity of sport and the physical, social and economic developmental benefits derived from it, make it an ideal tool for fostering the inclusion and well-being of persons with disabilities.’
HHA have already seen the success of this program, having helped to train Leon Gaisli, who became Haiti’s first Handcyclist to compete in the Paralympics in London 2012. Leon was referred to HHA after the earthquake having suffered a severe spinal cord injury. His journey to London 2012 has now become a great inspiration for many people with disabilities in Haiti, having overcome almost impossible odds to reach his dream! His participation was even rated the 7th most memorable moment in London 2012 by one of the UK’s leading newspapers.
THHT are looking to help support the development of this project, and are actively seeking groups who may wish to partner with this area of our disability work. It’s a perfect opportunity to do something sporty yourself, perhaps through a sponsored bike ride, fun run or other sporting event to raise money for this exciting new project. If you’d like to get involved please contact us today!