Disability inclusion through sports (summary and audio record)

Published Date

Event Review

Thematic presentation on disability inclusion, sports for development and rehabilitation

Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW)

Thursday 8 February 2018 (12.30pm to 1.30pm)

Within the framework of the Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week, and in advance of the Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, the Australian Permanent Mission in Geneva, the ICRC MoveAbility Foundation and the Agitos Foundation, held a thematic presentation during the HNPW on disability inclusion, sports for development and rehabilitation. More than 50 representatives of Permanent Missions, international organisations and other stakeholders with an interest in disability issues attended the event.

The interactive session included moving testimonials by elite Paralympians, highlighting that disability inclusion in sport is entirely feasible, sport is a powerful and unifying force and proof that disability does not constitute a barrier to achieving individual potential. Participants learned that physical rehabilitation and elite para-sport are two sides of the same coin. Rehabilitation is the first necessary step towards the fulfilment of one’s potential. High-level elite sport as well as amateur sport are key to a thriving life and proof that disability does not constitute a barrier to physical activities. The primary objective and aims of this thematic presentation was to highlight the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in accessing adapted services and devices, particularly in low and middle income countries; to discuss the use of para-sport as a support in the rehabilitation process, and also to change society’s perception of people with disabilities.

Discussions centred on the need to address barriers to entry and access to services, particularly in low-income countries, to ensure full and meaningful participation of people with disabilities at the policy level, and the necessity to integrate and implement sustainable changes within international institutions and through national governments. Participants agreed on the need to progress this work and build on momentum to ensure full participation.


  • Ms Heba Aly, Director, IRIN

Introductory Remarks

  • Ms Elizabeth Wilde, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations


  • Mr Yves Daccord, Director-General, ICRC
  • Mr Thierry Regenass, Executive Director, ICRC MoveAbility Foundation
  • Mr Andrew Thomas, Director, Agitos Foundation
  • Mr Dominique Bizimana, President of the East African Paralympic Committee


  • Mr Arly Velasquez (Mexico, Para alpine skiing), a veteran Paralympic Winter Games athlete and one of the top skiers in the world, previously competing at Sochi 2014. He dreams of and is chasing the first Winter Olympic medal for Mexico

With permission from the ICRC MoveAbility Foundation, the audio record of the session is available below. Unfortunately, in reason of its size, we are unable to attach the video displayed about Mr. Arly Valesquez (part of the Toyota "Start your impossible" initiative).  However, several other features by Mr. Valesquez are to be found on YouTube (the link to one is enclosed as example)