School students and teachers across the country will now be able to experience the best of Paralympic sport in their classrooms, with today’s (27 February) relaunch of Paralympics Australia’s Paralympic Education Program (PEP).
The revamped PEP is a free online education initiative which aims to inspire and excite young people by teaching them about the Paralympic Games and core Paralympic values.
Its primary objective is to promote inclusion of people with a disability and challenge perceptions of students via a range of engaging lesson plans and online resources, and a schools visit program featuring Paralympians in the lead-up to and during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
With six months until Tokyo, Paralympics Australia’s Chief Executive, Lynne Anderson, said it was an ideal time for students of all ages to embrace Australia’s Paralympians.
“Paralympians have a reputation for resilience. They personify courage and determination through their performances, and importantly, they have an ever-growing role to promote equality and positive social change,” Anderson said.
“We believe our Paralympic Education Program is the perfect opportunity for students to learn about these valuable characteristics in a fun and meaningful way.”
Research undertaken in the UK found 85 percent of respondents agree that the Paralympic Games have had a positive effect on the lives of people with a disability, and 54 per cent agree that exposure to the Games challenged their attitudes towards disability.
“Our Para-athletes remind the world that diversity is a strength to be celebrated. We know that here at home, the community response following the last few Games has been incredible,” Anderson said.
“We believe this program can enable our Paralympians and Paralympic sport to capture the hearts and minds of more Australian school kids, and continue to break down stigmas around disability and really instigate change.”
Paralympics Australia previously had an education program prior to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which had an extensive reach with almost 3,000 primary schools joining the program, and by 2010, had reached over 370,000 students.
The goal of the relaunched program is to reach a minimum of 300 schools and 10,000 students via online resources, and over 500 students through the school visits program before the Tokyo 2020 Games begin this August.
Paralympics Australia has been supported with the program, with resources from the International Paralympic Committee’s I’mPOSSIBLE program, as well as Australian Beef, which will help connect more Australian schools to the program.
Australian Beef will also be launching a new module of resources focussing on Australian beef as part of a healthy meal and active lifestyle, which will feature Paralympians instructing cooking classes focussing on beef’s role in living a healthy lifestyle.
“Australian Beef is proudly supporting the Paralympic Education Program to continue to connect, educate, aspire and excite more Australian schools and communities by bringing the Paralympic Games and Para-sports into classrooms with the healthy meal and active lifestyle messages,” said Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Lisa Sharp.
“MLA currently has a range of Australian curriculum-aligned materials and programs to support teachers in educating students about sustainable farming practices, red meat production and red meat nutrition. The Paralympic Education Program is the perfect fit with Australian Beef to inspire and educate kids to be the greatest through healthy meals and active lives.”
The John and Myriam Wylie Foundation has also provided funding support for the Paralympic Education Program’s school visits program. This funding will enable Paralympics Australia to hold eight additional school visits and extend the reach of the program to many more students and teachers.
Schools can register for the PEP, presented by Australian Beef, at education.paralympic.org.au.
By Sascha Ryner, Paralympics Australia