Team Canada Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc Launches Cross Canada Tour to Promote Paralympic Sport

Rio 2016 Paralympic Hopefuls highlight their journey through sport as part of UN Day of Persons with Disabilities

OTTAWA, Dec. 3, 2015 /CNW/ - Canada's most decorated female Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc launched a Canadian tour to promote Rio 2016 Paralympic hopefuls Thursday, saying the time is now for Canadians of all abilities to get involved in sport.

Petitclerc, Canada's Chef de Mission for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, shared her message across Canada's National Capital region on Thursday, visiting both Ottawa and Gatineau. The event was timed to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

"Canadians of all abilities have the right to take part in sport and live an active lifestyle," said Petitclerc, a 14-time Paralympic champion in wheelchair racing. "Less than three percent of Canadians with a disability are active in organized sports. That's a statistic we are working hard to improve.

"Today is a day that reminds us to continue to advance the important work of improving opportunities, accessibility and investment in parasport."

On the tour, Petitclerc is promoting Rio 2016 and awareness of Paralympic sport, along with local Paralympians from each of the regions she visits.

This morning, for example, Petitclerc, along with the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visually-impaired national team runner Jason Dunkerley and his guide Josh Karanja stopped by the University of Ottawa pool to cheer on Rio hopeful swimmer Camille Bérubé in her training.

''We encourage all Canadians to get to know our athletes,'' said Petitclerc. ''Community support is crucial to every athlete's success. The Paralympic movement continues to grow and that is because more Canadians are getting behind our athletes. Sport not only builds great athletes, it builds great people."

Petitclerc is particularly excited about the Paralympic Foundation of Canada's "Champion's Journey" fundraising campaign which supports programs and initiatives for Canadians to be active in parasport.

"I invite all Canadians to support the next generation of Paralympic champions by donating to the campaign at paralympic.ca/champions."

One of several athlete spokespeople for the campaign is wheelchair rugby star Zak Madell, Canada's flag bearer at the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games Closing Ceremony.

''I do not think I would be able to keep the same positive mindset that I have today if it weren't for continuing to be physically active after my amputations," said Madell. "We need to make sure people with a disability are aware of the opportunities available to them so they can continue to thrive."

Petitclerc will visit eight cities on this Tour towards Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The next stop is January 19 in Calgary.

About the Canadian Paralympic Committee

The Canadian Paralympic Committee is a non-profit, private organization with 25 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 high performance athletes with a disability 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. For more information, visit www.paralympic.ca

Follow the Canadian Paralympic Committee:
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SOURCE Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC)

Image with caption: "Chantal Petitclerc, along with the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, visually-impaired national team runner Jason Dunkerley and his guide Josh Karanja stopped by the University of Ottawa pool to cheer on Rio hopeful swimmer Camille Bérubé in her training. (CNW Group/Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151203_C4254_PHOTO_EN_557936.jpg

For further information: Alison Korn, Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Phone: 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

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http://www.paralympic.ca

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