High Performance Director for U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Program, Cathy Sellers, and American Paralympic athletes, Deja Young and Dennis Ogbe, visited Nigeria from May 5-10, as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Envoy Program.
In collaboration with the Nigerian Paralympic Committee, the sports envoys conducted capacity development programs for Nigerian Paralympic athletes and coaches in a variety of sports, including discus, shot put, wheelchair racing, and Paralympic athletics.
During their weeklong engagements in Abuja and Lagos, the sports envoys participated in panel discussions, workshops and clinics where they shared best practices on managing sports for people with disabilities. They also raised awareness about inclusion in sports of people with disabilities.
Delivering remarks at the grand finale of the sports clinic in Lagos on Friday, U.S. Embassy Counselor for Public Affairs, Aruna Amirthanayagam, explained that promoting the rights of people with disabilities is an important pillar of the U.S. Department of State’s sports diplomacy.
According to him, through exchanges of athletes, coaches, and sports administrators, the U.S. Sports Envoy program helps highlight the ways adaptive sports empower local communities and encourage policy makers to establish the infrastructure needed to advance disability rights.
“The Sports Envoy program demonstrates our commitment to promoting capacity building for Paralympic coaches and athletes as well as increase their participation and inclusion in the realm of sport.
“We encourage continued partnerships to explore opportunities and support increased participation of persons with disabilities in sports as well as promoting peaceful co-existence among youths through sports,” Mr. Amirthanayagam said at the program attended by leading Paralympic sports administrators, athletes and coaches.
While in Lagos, the American sports envoys, Sellers, Young, and Ogbe, visited the Pacelli School of the Blind where they launched a Paralympic sport club and shared the unique experience of their sports careers.
The United States Sports Envoy program is funded by the U.S. government and brings elite American athletes and coaches to lead programs developed by U.S. embassies and consulates in countries around the world.