Malawi, through Malawi Paralympic Committee (MPC) is training primary teachers from different schools, at Katoto in Mzuzu district on Para Sport Against Stigma.
Para Sport Against Stigma is an innovative project that looks at how representation, education and communication in Para sport can break down barriers to stigma to support access and adoption of assistive technology.
The four-year project (2020-2024) builds on learnings from the London 2012 Paralympic Games and is delivered by Loughborough University London, in partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and University of Malawi, Chancellor College. The IPC is providing free-to-air coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of its efforts to raise awareness of Para sport and its athletes in the region. In Ghana, Malawi and Zambia, the project will go beyond broadcasting with in-school education activities in schools (using the IPC’s official education programme I’mPOSSIBLE) and Para athlete development activities in communities before, during and after the Paralympic Games. Loughborough University London and University of Malawi, Chancellor College will conduct research around the Paralympic activities to gain insights aimed at influencing future communication and Para athlete development practices.
Para Sport Against Stigma is part of AT2030, a programme funded by UK Aid and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub. AT2030 will test ‘what works’ to improve access to assistive technology and will invest £20m to support solutions to scale. With a focus on innovative products, new service models, and global capacity support, the programme will reach 9 million people directly and 6 million more indirectly to enable a lifetime of potential through lifechanging assistive technology.
The Paralympic Movement is recognised globally as a valuable platform for changing disability perceptions and promoting a more inclusive society. Around 15% of the world’s population – approximately 1 billion people – live with disabilities. Eighty percent are living in developing countries0Fi. Access to assistive technology such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, walking sticks and new digital solutions can make learning, working and full participation in their families possible. Enabling inclusion and independence for people with disabilities are central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Stigma has been identified as a major barrier to the adoption of assistive technology in low and middle income countries (LMICs). The London 2012 Paralympic Games had a significant impact on the way the British public perceives disability. Media campaigns, school programmes and television coverage in the lead up, during and after the event all contributed to raising visibility and reducing disability stigma across the UK.
Building on the learnings from London 2012, the Para Sport Against Stigma project aims to gain a better understanding of how the Paralympic Games, Para sport and its athletes can reduce stigma in an African context.
The Paralympic Movement is still very young in Africa. There are limited opportunities to see and try Para sport for both people with disabilities and the public. By facilitating TV coverage of the Paralympic Games and more opportunities to try and experience Para sport, it is hoped this will simulate a shift in the way disability and assistive technology is perceived at all levels of society.
The aim of the project is to examine how disability stigma can be overcome through Para sport in order to increase assistive technology adoption in Africa through a four-pillar approach (education, athlete development, Paralympic broadcast and cross-cutting research activity).
For the first time across the region, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be provided freeto-air and broadcasted live on 24 August and 5 September 2021. There will also be a 52-minute daily Games highlight show of African centred content in English, French and Portuguese. TV Media Sport (TVMS) is working on behalf of the IPC to secure Sub-Saharan broadcasters. So far free-to-air broadcasters in 24 countries – with an estimated reach of over 150 million people – are confirmed: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. The IPC will waive the broadcast rights fee for Tokyo 2020 in order to maximise coverage in a region that has traditionally aired only limited coverage of the Games.
The IPC is working with NPCs in Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia to implement I’mPOSSIBLE in schools across Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia. I’mPOSSIBLE is the global Paralympic education programme, developed by the IPC to spread the Paralympic values and the vision of the Paralympic Movement to young people throughout the world. The programme is designed for teachers to use with learners aged 6-18. It provides a range of easy-to-use lesson ideas introducing learners to inclusion through the Paralympic values, Para sport and the inspirational achievements of Para athletes from around the world. Working together with national stakeholders, the project aims to introduce I’mPOSSIBLE to 1.3 million learners,
teachers, and their families.
The IPC is working with NPCs in Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia to strengthen Para athlete development pathways through capacity building, coach development and talent identification.
Para Athletics and Para Powerlifting have been identified by the NPCs as priority sports. Development activities will be closely coordinated with the IPC, World Para Powerlifting and World Para Athletics development programming. The project aims at increasing access to Para sport and support athletes on the track to Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, while creating sustainable Para sport structures for future Games participation and good practice for other LMICs.
Loughborough University London in partnership with the University of Malawi, Chancellor College is conducting research around Paralympic activities. The research takes a qualitative and action research approach and aims to influence future communication and Para sport development practices through investigations on:
•content and reception of Paralympic TV broadcasts, and mobile community
- community communication activities such as I’mPOSSIBLE, local radio and
- local processes of Para athlete development.
- research on Para athlete and coaches’ experiences.
Targeted outputs include: Report on Tokyo 2020 broadcast in Africa, Communication for Social Change Toolkit and Para Athlete Development Guide.
This four-year project intends to build new knowledge around stigma reduction, assistive technology access, and Para sport in Africa. Tangible outputs such as the Para Athlete Development Guide and Communication for Social Change Toolkit are aimed at influencing practice in sport and communication. Fostering new partnerships at both the international and national level are hoped to stimulate further investment and contribute the broader implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.
The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.
International Paralympic Committee.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. Its vision is to make for an inclusive society through Para sport. Founded on 22 September 1989, the IPC is an international non-profit organisation with more than 200 members made up of National Paralympic Committees, International Federations, Regional Organisations and International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled. The IPC Headquarters and its management team are located in Bonn, Germany.
University of Malawi, Chancellors College.
Chancellor College is the largest among the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi. In the year 1973, the college was relocated from Blantyre to Zomba. The college prides itself on its commitment to achieving of sustainable social, economic and technological development in Malawi. This is an objective that is met through the continued – and ever-increasing – supply of the society with well-educated graduates in a variety of disciplines, as well as through innovative research relevant to Malawi and the neighbouring region.
Jennifer Wong, Project Development Manager.
Loughborough University London.
Phone: +44 (0) 7721235600.
i WHO – World Report on Disability (2011) https://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/.