World Chicago hosts Brazilian athletes with disabilities

September 1, 2013 6:49:42 AM PDT
This summer, some of Chicago's athletes with disabilities played hosts to athletes with disabilities from Brazil as part of World Chicago, a U.S. Dept. of State-sponsored organization.

This is the first time for a sports and disabilities program to be funded by the state department.

Twenty-six athletes and their coach visited Chicago for 10 days to experience accessibility in Chicago.

"They're doing a mix of sport and advocacy training so they can go back and be advocates for disability rights in Brazil," said Peggy Partenoff, executive director, World Chicago. "We wrote a grant to because Chicago did not get the bid for the Olympics, but Rio did, which was too bad, but when Rio did, we said let's still have a dialogue with Rio about the Olympics, about youth athletes. Chicago is a city that has a great disability rights community."

Visitors were joined by Chicago's athletes with disabilities as they explored the city and participated in different sports, like sled hockey.

"They don't have a lot of hockey or ice skating in Brazil. It's more summer outdoor," Partenoff said.

Tayna, 18, is a swimmer, although she had fun learning sled hockey. She loved the city

"It is a beautiful city, very accessible, warm, at least this time of the year. I am enjoying very much the city," she said.

Lucus is also 18. He plays basketball and is a big fan of Michael Jordan.

"I like a lot Michael Jordan because his life story and his lessons -- even your basketball is great," said Lucas.

Sport Coordinator Sileno is impressed with Chicago's sport programs.

"It's amazing, the sport, because people with disabilities, with a good arm, can practice, and the people who cannot use their upper body can be helped with the one who can't. So, it is very important the sport to be included for people with disabilities," Sileno said.

For more information, visit www.worldchicago.org.

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