Filipino Paralympians: agents for social change
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
With only a couple of days to go until the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, lone Filipino Paralympic medalist Adeline Dumapong expressed excitement in what may very well be her last Games.
“It will be my fourth time competing in the Paralympics, and may very well be my last as I plan to retire in 2014. Every host country brings its own unique flavour to the Games, and in London I expect no less than a high level of competition that will break and set many records.”
The London 2012 Paralympics will be held from 29 August to 9 September. It promises to be the biggest ever in its history, with about 4,200 athletes competing in 20 sports. The Philippine delegation will field a team on nine, its biggest ever.
As more and more people participate in disability sport, an opportunity arises to use the Paralympics as a platform to dispel negative perceptions towards disability.
British Ambassador Stephen Lillie acknowledged the importance of Paralympians as positive role models. “You are shining examples that persons with disabilities can achieve great things. We wish you success in your quest to win medals for your country. By representing the Philippines in the London Paralympic Games, you are already bringing pride and glory to your country. We hope that the Filipino community in the UK will be able to watch the Games live cheer you on. While we cannot be there physically, we at the British Embassy will join the rest of the country in support,” he said to the Filipino Paralympians competing in the Games.
Dumapong herself realises her unique position as an agent for social change towards disability. “My personal goal is to use sport as an avenue for raising awareness on the plight of persons with disabilities, and to eventually gain acceptance and equality. Being into sport can be the first step towards being in the mainstream of society.”
“I am already happy that the International Paralympic Committee has achieved the recognition it has now and I hope that its identity and standing will be maintained or strengthened in the next decade. Locally, though, I hope that disability sport will gain equal acceptance and recognition by the law and by my fellow Filipinos. I hope that in the near future athletes with disabilities will not be looked upon as “outreach” sports programme beneficiaries but worthy athletes deserving of equal support and respect. My ambition for my country is to see within ten years the fruition of all the disability rights being discussed at present. I would also like to see Filipinos with disabilities – ourselves – taking more part in nation building and achieving our potential,” she concluded.
Harnessing the power of images to show ability in disability
The British Embassy and its partners are taking advantage of the unique opportunity brought by the London Paralympic Games to launch a campaign to change the way people think, feel and behave towards disability and disability sport.
The British Embassy’s “I Can!” Photography Exhibition is harnessing the power of images to show the ability in disABILITY by aiming the lens on persons with disabilities leading active and productive lives.
“History has proven that even a single image can have the power to evoke strong emotion, to change perceptions and to mobilise people into action. The Paralympics is an excellent platform to promote respect, acceptance and equality for persons with disabilities. We want to echo this message using the inspiring visual images featured in this photo exhibit,” said British Ambassador Stephen Lillie.
The “I Can!” Photography Exhibition is organised by the British Embassy in Manila, in cooperation with its partners: British Council, Samsung, PhilSPADA-NPC Philippines, SM Cares, The Podium and SM Program on Disability Affairs.
The exhibit will run for the duration of the Paralympics and will be shown in SM Supermalls across the country. From 28 August to 2 September it will be seen in the following SM Supermalls: Mall of Asia, North EDSA, Pampanga and Bacolod. From 4 to 10 September it will be shown at the following SM Malls: Baguio, Cebu, Fairview and Davao. The exhibit is open to the public.
The photos featured are the winners and finalists of the “I Can!” photography competition conducted last July to celebrate the countdown to the London 2012 Paralympics.
Big winner Sheila Pamakid, whose entry titled “I Can be full”, was declared both the Grand Winner and the Voter’s Choice. The photo shows swimmer Arnel Aba hopping ahead of able-bodied athletes as one-third of a triathlon relay team composed of persons with disabilities.
Rouelle Umali bagged the Best Published Photo title. His winning image, dubbed “I Can aim high for my dreams and reach for it”, captures Paralympian Andy Avellana in mid-air as he trains for a high jump competition.
The winners received trophies and Samsung Galaxy Tabs, while the finalists received certificates and Samsung Galaxy Pocket mobile phones.