Success of the International conference entitled Disability Sport: A vehicle for social change?


Brainchild event of Dr.Ian Brittain brings to the UK attendees from around the globe

Participants acclaim Disability Sport: A vehicle for social change? Conference a big success


From Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th August 2012 the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies (CPRS) at Coventry University in the UK hosted a three day international conference entitled Disability Sport: A vehicle for social change? The brainchild of conference organiser Dr Ian Brittain, who is a Research Fellow in Sport and Peace in CPRS and Project Manager for their ‘Peace, Olympics, Paralympics, programme’ the conference brought together around forty academics and practitioners in the field of sport for people with disabilities from around the world. They came from all corners of the globe including Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe and spent their time discussing a wide variety of ways in which sport and help change and enhance the lives of people with disabilities from grass roots to the elite level and in a variety of situations including post-conflict zones and areas devastated by natural disasters such as earth quakes to soldiers disabled in combat and individuals either born with impairments or disabled as a result of an accident.


The conference also contained two keynote speakers. The first, Tony Naar from the Australian Paralympic Committee, gave a very interesting insight into the huge impact that a project to gather the history of Australia at the Paralympic Games has had on the workings of the current organisation. This includes the putting up of street signs within their London 2012 Paralympic Village accommodation corridors named after famous Australian Paralympians of the past and posters showing famous former Australian Paralympians with messages of support for the team for London 2012. The second keynote, Anne Wafula-Strike, a Paralympian and Author, gave an inspiring presentation based on her own life story from the impact of her family being forced to leave their village when she contracted polio at a young age to the impact that sport has had on helping her to re-build her life and her identity as an individual.


The conference coincided with the City of Coventry’s Paralympic Celebration festivities, which Dr Brittain also helped to organise. This led to the conference being visited by the Paralympic Flame lantern on the Friday afternoon, which can be seen in the photograph below. The conference also included a dinner that was attended by staff from the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) that historically was one of the founders of the Paralympic Games as well as the President of the National Paralympic Committee of Barbados, Wesley Worrell and his wife Maureen.