The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center Wins the Japan Sports Agency Award!
The awards ceremony for the Japan Sports Agency Award was held on May 10 at the Japan Sports Agency Commissioner’s Office. Four agencies/individuals, including the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center (Parasapo), were presented with their awards.
Chief Executive Officer Ozawa (left) receiving the award certificate from Commissioner Suzuki (right)
NHK Radio/TV Calisthenics staff, Japan High Performance Sport Center PyeongChang Olympics/Paralympics medical and scientific support team, Setsuo Nakamura, LSI Medience Corporation, Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center
This award is given to agencies/individuals that have achieved outstanding performances in various areas of sports, and/or made extraordinary efforts with regards to the promotion of sports, and achieved notable results. It was awarded for the first time in January 2016, the year after the establishment of the Japan Sports Agency. Junichi Kawai (Chairman of the Paralympians Association of Japan) was a recipient of this first series of awards, given out in January 2017, for his performance as a para-athlete, his efforts towards the advancement of parasports, and for his entrance into the International Paralympic Committee’s Hall of Fame.
The awards ceremony was held at the Japan Sports Agency Commissioner’s Office
The Japan Sports Agency is an external bureau of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
We at Parasapo received this award for the systems/facilities we have available to support parasport associations, etc., as well as our significant contribution to parasport educational and popularization efforts, like the Asuchalle! School program held in schools nationwide, and parasport workshops aimed towards local residents.
We’d like to take a moment to re-introduce some of these efforts.
Helping Advance Parasports Even After 2020:
Parasapo’s Support of Parasport Associations for the Paralympics
It has now been three and a half years since the establishment of our joint office, meant to act as a hub for the administration and operation of various parasport organizations. As of May 2019, there are 29 parasport organizations that have joined us in this office. The support we provide to these associations is extensive and varied, from promotion services for the associations to strengthen the organization’s operational base, to support of governance, the cultivation and training of staff, PR support, accounting/translation services, and more. Since 2018, Parasapo has also operated the Nippon Foundation Para Arena, which is a gymnasium specific to parasports. We also publish educational material for speech training and sports compliance for para-athletes and parasport instructors/coaches—topics that are becoming increasingly important, with the growing attention on parasports in advance of 2020. Though our support is expected to end in 2021, we plan to create a model so that these associations can operate independently in the future.
The joint office, made on the basis of universal design
Paralympic Education for as Many Children as Possible:
Recent Paralympics have exhibited clearly the importance of Paralympic education to the games and to parasports in general. Here at Parasapo, we offer a program called Asuchalle! School, in which para-athletes hold parasport lectures/workshops for elementary, middle, and high school students. The 90-minute program is comprised of three parts (demonstration, parasport workshop, and discussion), and offers children the opportunity to learn and think about parasports. As of February 2019, the program has been implemented in all 47 prefectures of Japan. Since its start in April 2016 to March 2019, it has encompassed a total of 675 schools and 107,569 students. This year, “Asuchalle! School” is expected to be implemented in even more schools, and cover even more students. There are also discussions as to the implementation of this project overseas.
Students at Ozu Higashi Municipal Junior High School, which was located in the “last” (47th) prefecture left for Asuchalle! School, Ehime Prefecture
Expanding the Parasport Experience Nationwide:
Asuchalle! Field Day and Cross-Country Japan Parasports Festival
Asuchalle! Field Day is a Parasapo program oriented towards companies and organizations, and has been held thus far for 214 companies/organizations, with approximately 5,000 participants total. One of the aims of the program is to encourage better communication and team-building and drive a sense of unity, cooperation, etc., through the practice of parasports, ultimately improving a variety of skills needed in the workplace. The program also utilizes blindfolds, wheelchairs, etc., thus emphasizing communication and cooperation even more so than in able-bodied sports—a unique characteristic of parasports. This factor drove the implementation of the Cross-Country Japan Parasports Festival, an FY2018 Japan Sports Agency Commissioned Project, as part of parasport popularization/educational efforts. The event was held across seven blocks (the Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku/Shikoku, and Kyushu regions) nationwide.
More and more, we are seeing repeat participants at our events, and in recent months are fielding many consultations with regards to school trips as well. We aim to continue these projects, meeting a wide variety of needs in order to communicate the beauty and depth of parasports to the general public.
The Asuchalle! Field Day Japan Champion Tournament featured the champions of the seven nationwide “blocks”
It is now less than a year and a half from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. In our efforts to support parasports and parasport education, we’ve noticed a rise in interest not only in the Paralympics but in the idea of diversity and inclusion as well. We hope that our winning the Japan Sports Agency Award this year will work to further advance the efforts we—alongside all of the staff/organizations that have graced us with their support since our establishment in 2015— are making towards a more widespread recognition of parasports and the development of the Paralympic movement as a whole.
photo & text by Parasapo