Canadian Paralympic Committee encourages sport for all on UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Athletes with a disability reflect on how sport has influenced their life path

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OTTAWA, Dec. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Today, the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Canadian Paralympic medallists, coaches and development athletes are telling their powerful, personal stories of sport.

Whether born with a disability or having acquired one later in life, athletes involved in parasport experience firsthand the many benefits from participating - and share the wish that more Canadians will get involved, whether as an athlete, coach, parent, volunteer or fan.

"Every child in Canada has the right to participate in sport," says Henry Storgaard, CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. "Sport opens the door to many great life experiences and our goal is to encourage more Canadians with a disability to get involved and enjoy firsthand the many benefits that participation brings."

Currently, less than three per cent of Canadians with a disability are active in organized sports. That's a statistic that the Canadian Paralympic Committee is working to improve, through the recruitment campaign, "It's More Than Sport," produced by BBDO Toronto. View the public service announcement online at www.youtube.com/CDNParalympics.

"For Canada to have a podium full of medalists, we need to have a playground full of kids playing parasport," says Storgaard. "We need to ensure that kids with a disability know that participation in sport is an option for them. There are many transferable benefits that playing sport can provide a person with a disability, from rehabilitative to personal development. I know parents will see this campaign and want to give their child the chance to benefit from the experience of parasport."

Sport not only builds great athletes, it builds great people. Friendship, confidence, and opportunity are three of the top benefits both parents and children cite as reasons to get involved in sport.

"I'm so grateful that when I was 13, I saw an athlete on TV with the same disability as mine, which made me realize that one day I could be a Paralympic athlete too," said Benoît Huot, a Paralympic champion swimmer from Montreal who has won 19 medals in four Paralympic Games. "It's really important to make sure the next generation of children with a disability have the same opportunities."

"To be featured in the It's More Than Sport commercial is amazing," said Cassidy Sheng, 12, a leg amputee swimmer from Toronto. "I love swimming and am so proud to show people that swimming is one of the many fun sports that kids with a disability can do."

Visit www.paralympic.ca/getinvolved to learn more about ways to get involved, whether as an athlete, coach, parent, volunteer or parasport champion.

About the Canadian Paralympic Committee

The Canadian Paralympic Committee is a non-profit, private organization with 46 member sports organizations dedicated to strengthening the Paralympic movement. The Canadian Paralympic Committee's vision is to be the world's leading Paralympic nation. Its mission is to lead the development of a sustainable Paralympic sport system in Canada to enable athletes to reach the podium at the Paralympic Games. By supporting Canadian Paralympic athletes and promoting their success, the Canadian Paralympic Committee inspires all Canadians with a disability to get involved in sport through programs delivered by its member organizations.

Follow the Canadian Paralympic Committee:

www.paralympic.ca
www.facebook.com/CDNParalympics
www.twitter.com/CDNParalympics
www.youtube.com/CDNParalympics

SOURCE: CANADIAN PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE (CPC)

For further information:

Alison Korn
Manager, Media Relations
Canadian Paralympic Committee
Tel: 613-569-4333 ext. 243
Cell: 613-298-4927
akorn@paralympic.ca

Martin Richard
Executive Director, Communications and Marketing
Canadian Paralympic Committee
Tel: 613-569-4333 ext. 224
Cell: 613-725-4339
mrichard@paralympic.ca