Paralympic plan unveiled

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A Paralympic Development Programme has been launched by Chicago 2016 and other agencies to improve training opportunities for potential disabled athletes in Illinois.

Chicago 2016, World Sport Chicago (WSC), US Paralympics, a division of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), and 10 partner agencies have announced the launch of a Chicago Paralympic Development Programme. The programme is the first of its kind in the country, and it aims to provide the visually and physically impaired with the expertise and resources needed to get involved in Paralympic sports. It will officially begin operating in February 2009. " Traditionally, visually and physically impaired people face a number of challenges when they try to get involved in sports, " said Patrick G Ryan, chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016. " There are a number of barriers, including inadequate coaching or equipment, or a lack of reliable transportation to training locations, which make it difficult to get involved. The Paralympic Development Programme will provide expertise and resources that will allow more people to become involved with Paralympic sport. " The Chicago Paralympic Development Programme will initially be exclusive to Chicago and other areas of northern Illinois, with the goal of eventually replicating it in other cities across the country. The USOC will provide national team coaches to lead ongoing " train the trainers" clinics for local area coaches interested in Paralympic sport. The USOC will also be providing Paralympic coaches and athletes to participate in clinics which will introduce children to Paralympic sports, and provide them with the best coaching and equipment for each sport. At first, there will be an emphasis on cycling, judo and boccia. The three sports allow individuals with visual impairments as well as physical disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy to participate. Expanding these underdeveloped program areas in Chicago as well as in the broader Paralympic community is important. " We are very proud to be part of the new Chicago Paralympic Development Programme, " said Charlie Huebner, chief of US Paralympics for the USOC. " Regular physical activity has a profound and positive impact on the lives of people with visual and physical disabilities. This world–class programme will not only serve individuals in the local community, it will also play an important role in the expansion of Paralympic programmes across the country. " " The launch of the Chicago Paralympic Development Programme shows Chicago 2016 and World Sport Chicago's commitment to establishing a long–term presence of Olympic and Paralympic sports in Chicago, " said Bill Scherr, chairman of World Sport Chicago. " We're excited about the opportunity to continue to introduce Paralympic sports to the visually and physically impaired and equip them with the resources they need to succeed. " The agencies partnering with Chicago 2016, WSC and US Paralympics include the Chicago Park District, Blaze Sports of America, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Maine–Niles Special Recreation, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, Rockford Park District, Northeast DuPage Special Recreation, Western DuPage Special Recreation and Northwest DuPage Special Recreation.

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