Thinley Namgay  

Seven hundred and forty-seven students of Gesarling Central School in Dagana took part in parasports yesterday.

The sports were part of the third paralympic festival organised by the Bhutan Paralympic Committee to foster inclusive sports in the country, understand impairment, its opportunities and successes.

Parasports such as boccia, goalball, blind football, sitting volleyball, and para-badminton were introduced in the school.  Sports equipment was also handed to the school.

Prior to the paralympic festival, the committee also conducted a programme called “I’mPOSSIBLE” on May 24 and 25 for 14 students identified as special education needs (SEN) students of the school.

“I’mPOSSIBLE” programme is an education programme developed by the Agitos Foundation, the International Paralympic Committee’s development arm, to spread the paralympic values and the vision of the paralympic movement to young people throughout the world.

The  programme is designed for aged 6-18 and SEN students of the school were given the first-hand experience of para-sports as they did not play any sports until now due to impairments.

The committee also trained 10 teachers of the school to execute the programme. SEN teachers were introduced to the paralympic movement and the ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ toolkit, which is designed to engage young learners.

An official from Bhutan Paralympic Committee said through education of inclusion and the paralympic values, ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ aims to challenge and change the perceptions of how youngsters  perceive people with an impairment, thus bringing about a more inclusive society.

The event was supposed to be conducted last year, but there were no trained coaches in this field. However, the Agitos Foundation trained a SEN teacher of the school, Rupa Devi, and a coach of the committee, Penjor Gyeltshen.

According to Penjor Gyeltshen, the paralympic movement must use its global position and influence, together with its events and activities, to challenge the stigma attached to persons with disabilities (PwDs).

He said the ‘I’mPOSSIBLE programme’ also aims to contribute to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and also to actualise the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PwDs.

He said parents and communities should support young PwDs and send them to schools to provide opportunities for them.

Meanwhile, the paralympic festival will also take place at Damphu Middle Secondary School in Tsirang on May 30.