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Paralympic Academy.

Imagine an organization linking children with physical disabilities and their families to organizations helping them find coaches, rehabilitation professionals, and helping promote more active lifestyles. Imagine no more. It's now a reality--thanks to the Paralympic Academy, a program of U.S. Paralympics and Freightliner Sprinter.

The Paralympic Academy is an outreach program created to recognize and inspire children with physical disabilities to participate in sports and recreational activities while providing parents and coaches the skill sets and equipment to support their children's involvement in more active lifestyles.

Last fall, congressional leaders, disability sports organizations, and U.S. Paralympics officially launched the Paralympic Academy at a luncheon hosted by The Honorable Ted Stevens of Alaska, in Washington, DC. With the help and support of Congress and founding partners, Wheelchair Foundation and Freightliner Sprinter, the Paralympic Academy is positioned to reach countless children with physical disabilities across the U.S.

The Academy was created based on a year's worth of feedback regarding how the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and U.S. Paralympics, a division of the USOC, could help state and regional programs serving children with physical disabilities.

Since then, the Paralympic Academy has added a number of state partners--The Lakeshore Foundation, Alabama; National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) in Colorado and Missouri; The National Ability Center, Utah; Blaze Sports, Georgia.

The goal is to build Paralympic Academy partners in each of the 50 states throughout the U.S.

John Register, Manager of the Paralympic Academy, is a two time Paralympian. He sustained injury training for the 1996 Olympic Games, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg. Although his Olympic dreams were dashed, another door opened--the Paralympic Games. He made the 1996 Paralympic Games in swimming and 2000 Games in track and field, where he won a silver medal in the long jump. "Sports are integral in the rehabilitation process. That's why I think it's so important for kids with physical disabilities to have an outlet allowing them to see what is possible, instead of what is impossible," says Register.

As part of the program in 2004, The Paralympic Academy and each of its state partners are sending a child to attend the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, September 17-28. Each state partner is holding an essay contest based on the topic The Meaning of Ability, whereby applicants will be judged and one child will be selected, along with a coach to attend the Games.

In subsequent non-Games years, beginning in 2005, each state partner will select one child with a physical disability and a non-disabled peer and one coach who is assisting in developing health and wellness programs for kids with physical disabilities to attend the National Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more information, you can contact Paralympic Academy Manager, John Register, at john.register@usoc.org or call (719) 866-2038.

About Freightliner Sprinter

Freightliner Sprinter is proud to be the Official Vehicle Sponsor of the U.S. Paralympic Team/U.S. Paralympics. The benchmark in its class, the Freightliner Sprinter is the top-performing van for every kind of commercial use and is a powerful resource for enhancing the lives of individuals with physical disabilities. For more information about Freightliner Sprinter, visit www.fl-sprinter.com.

About Wheelchair Foundation

Founded by philanthropist Kenneth Behring, the Wheelchair Foundation provides wheelchairs internationally for persons in financial need. Domestically, the Wheelchair Foundation provides introductory sport wheelchairs for Paralympic Academy partners.

USP Forum is a regular feature of PALAESTRA which keeps readers informed as to happenings of United States Paralympics, a division of the United Slates Olympic Committee. Charlie Huebner, Executive Director, U.S. Paralympics, 25 N. Tejon--LL #110, Colorado Springs, CO 80903; (719) 471-8772: (719) 471-0196 (FAX); charlie.huebner@usoc.org, is the Department Editor.
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Title Annotation:U.S. Paralympics Forum
Author:Huebner, Charlie
Publication:Palaestra
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:625
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