The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will launch the pilot of its new education programme, "Proud Paralympian", on Sunday (15 March) aimed at Paralympians and para-athletes who aspire to compete in the Paralympic Games.
Supported by the Agitos Foundation, the launch will take place in Dubai, UAE, as part of the build-up to the IPC Powerlifting World Cup and will feature a selection of educational activities that will be tested for the first time, before "Proud Paralympian" is officially rolled-out in 2016.
The first modules to be trialled include Paralympic history, fair-play, media skills and human rights and are designed to support athlete development both on and off the field of play, as individuals and active citizens.
Proud Paralympian also encompasses training for athletes who have not yet competed at a Paralympic Games and are aspiring to become Paralympians. The training sessions will be run by a series of leaders from within para-sport who have been nominated by International Federations and have benefitted from a two-day interactive programme supported by the Dubai Club for the Disabled prior to the sessions.
Xavier Gonzalez, IPC Chief Executive Officer, said: "The Proud Paralympian concept has been around for some time, but through the education programme of the same name we hope to breathe new life into the idea.
"Athletes who have competed at Paralympic Games can rightfully be proud of reaching the pinnacle of competition. Our aim is to support them with their lives as athletes and role models and do the same for the next generation of aspiring Paralympians, taking a 360 degree approach to their career development.
"Proud Paralympian will support athletes, as individuals, to find a balance between their personal and professional lives, and give them the tools to take their skills beyond their competitive careers.
"All athletes have the potential to inspire future generations, but para-athletes are in a unique position. By redefining the limits of what is possible, as active citizens they can help change perceptions, and contribute towards a more inclusive society."
Further workshops are planned at powerlifting regional Championships in Mexico City in April; Almaty, Kazakhstan, in July, and Eger, Hungary in November. There will also be sessions at a para-rowing development camp in Gavirate, Italy, in May; a training camp in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in June and at August's Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
The pilot will be used to make changes and improvements to the materials for Proud Paralympian before it is officially launched in 2016, in time for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
During the first session in Dubai, updates and pictures will be posted to www.Facebook.com/AgitosFoundation and www.Twitter.com/Agitos.