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Schools that Use the “I’mPOSSIBLE” Toolkit and More to be Awarded at Tokyo 2020 Closing Ceremony!

On August 21, in a press conference at the Japan National Press Club, the Agitos Foundation announced that they had established a new award. The award will be given to schools that utilize the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) official toolkit “I’mPOSSIBLE” and have contributed to the realization of an inclusive society, as well as Paralympians that have brought about significant change in terms of a more inclusive society. These awards will be given out at the Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The “I’mPOSSIBLE” toolkit is part of an educational program developed by the Agitos Foundation, which is in charge of R&D for the IPC. The toolkit, which was implemented in December 2017, aims to use the Paralympic Games as a theme to drive the realization of an inclusive society. The Japanese version* was the first to be implemented in the world, with the elementary school version introduced to schools in April 2017. In addition to distributing the toolkits, the foundation also held training programs for teachers and affiliates. In May 2019, the toolkit was distributed free of charge to approximately 36,000 elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and special education schools throughout the country, where they are currently in use.

*The Japanese version of the “I’mPOSSIBLE” toolkit was developed jointly by the I’mPOSSIBLE Task Force in Japan (Japan Para-Sports Association/Japanese Paralympic Committee/The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center [Parasapo]) and the Benesse Foundation for Children. It is based on the international version, but is designed to be easier to utilize in Japanese educational settings.

The “I’mPOSSIBLE Award” was announced almost exactly one year before the start date for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The award will be given to two schools in Japan and one overseas, for a total of three schools, as well as one male and one female Paralympian. The selection process will begin on October 1st for schools in Japan, and any school that has held one or more classes that utilize the Japanese version of the “I’mPOSSIBLE” toolkit is eligible to apply.

See here for details on the “I’mPOSSIBLE Award” (in Japanese)

“I’mPOSSIBLE” Japanese version toolkit

Awards to be Given Out at the Closing Ceremony, in Front of the Whole World!

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about this award is that it will be handed out in the Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Craig Spence, IPC Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, was also at the press conference, and expressed his anticipation towards the award.
“The awards will be given out during the Closing Ceremony, which means we’ll be able to broadcast the ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ movement through the TV and other forms of media to billions of people. It will be an extraordinary opportunity to emphasize how important it is to encourage the realization of an inclusive society through Paralympic education.”

Yasushi Yamawaki, Governing Board member of the IPC and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Agitos Foundation, spoke about the meaning behind these toolkits, saying passionately, “Children who learn the concept of inclusivity through Paralympic education will be able to use the slogan ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ to overcome difficulties, and persevere towards their dreams. And once these children have grown up and are taking part in various elements of society, the determination and behaviors that they learned from the ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ toolkit will really shine, and society will become truly inclusive.”

Rio Medalists Encourage Schools and Athletes to Apply

The press conference was also attended by two Paralympians thought to be gold medal contenders at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Keiichi Kimura, who leads Japan’s para swimming world

Blind swimmer Keiichi Kimura, who won four medals in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games—the most of any Japanese para-athlete in history—said proudly, “So far Japan has taken initiative, implementing [‘I’mPOSSIBLE’] ahead of the rest of the world, and conveying to the next generation of children the benefits of an inclusive society. I am honored to be a para-athlete in this country.”

Markus Rehm, world record holder for the Men’s Long Jump event, is a gold medal contender for the Tokyo Paralympic Games as well

Markus Rehm (Germany), who is a jumper with a prosthetic leg, and who won a gold medal in the Long Jump (T64) event at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, spoke as well, saying, “To be given this award at the Closing Ceremony, with billions of people watching, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, an experience that will change the recipients’ lives. I would encourage any school that has implemented ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ to apply for this truly incredible award.”

Award to Build Further Momentum for the Realization of Inclusive Societies

Miki Matheson, who is also a Parasapo staff member, is a member of the IPC and IOC Education Committees

Miki Matheson, staff member of the I’mPOSSIBLE Award Japan Office and member of the IPC Education Committee spoke about her anticipation going into the Tokyo Paralympic Games. “I personally am a Paralympian that competed in the 1998 Paralympic Games in Nagano, in my home country of Japan, and I remember how much energy I got from the sound of all the Japanese children cheering for me during my event.” She went on, discussing the future of the movement after the Tokyo Paralympic Games. “As a teacher and a mother, I’ve wished strongly for the children of the next generation to learn inclusive thinking through the Paralympics. I put my heart into developing the ‘I’mPOSSIBLE’ toolkit, and I’m very excited to see the effects it will have in the future.”

“I’mPOSSIBLE” is currently being utilized in 26 countries, with approximately 150,000 children and 3,818 teachers exposed to the toolkit last year alone. As momentum builds in advance of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, the foundation aims to take the program into even more countries throughout the world.

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will end on September 6 (Sun.), 2020. Which schools and which athletes will take the stage during the Closing Ceremony at the New National Stadium? What kind of showcase will it be? We can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

The press conference had a friendly, peaceful atmosphere

See here for information on how to apply from inside of Japan, as well as the toolkit’s features and case reports!
The “I’mPOSSIBLE” Japanese version official website is now open to the public! (in Japanese)

text by Asuka Senaga
photo by Hisashi Okamoto

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