RAMALLAH, June 14, 2010 (WAFA) - Mercy Corps and the Palestinian Paralympics Committee launched a two-year programme to empower Palestinian youth with disabilities Funded by the European Union.
The EU Representative Christian Berger, said, the European Union supported the rights of people with disabilities in occupied Palestinian territory through access to sports and community awareness under a two-year programme implemented by Mercy Corps and the Palestinian Paralympic Committee to empower youth with disabilities.
The event marked the beginning of the comprehensive capacity building programme for PWD sports clubs and the Palestinian Paralympic movement through technical assistance and small grants. The support is provided by the European Union through a two-year 533,000 euro programme in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The programme provides leadership training and regular sport practices for youth with disabilities in Gaza and West Bank, building their self-confidence and promoting their inclusion. Building on Palestinian Paralympic Committee technical expertise, the programme provides training and small grants to sport clubs to improve and expand their sport programmes for youth with disabilities and strengthen their organizational management. The programme works with disabled people’s organizations, rehabilitation hospitals, government representatives and sport clubs to develop local action plans focusing on sport programmes, advocacy and community outreach.
In partnership with the Palestinian non-state actor, the Palestinian Paralympic Committee, Mercy Corps is implementing the programme, Sports for Change stressed that, “Empowering Youth with Disabilities for an Inclusive Civil Society, to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in the occupied Palestinian territory through empowerment of young people with disabilities, strengthened civil society and increased community support for the rights of people with disabilities.”
Mercy Corps Mission Director, Andrew Dwonch, described the services and benefits provided by the programme, and Palestinian Paralympic Committee Chair, Akram Okkeh, stressed the importance of strengthening the local and national Paralympic movement and preparation of young athletes for London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group asserts that sports improve the inclusion and well-being of PWD by changing what communities think and feel about disabilities and by changing what people with disabilities think and feel about themselves.
Since the second intifada, in addition to the recent crisis in Gaza, the majority of sport clubs working with PWD have become inactive. Sport clubs face funding difficulties compounded by the lack of fundraising and community mobilization skills.