Creating Opportunities

When I arrived at TTASPE in 2008 as a Commonwealth Games Canada intern, TTASPE wanted to work with the Trinidad & Tobago Paralympic Committee (TTPC) because it was felt they hadn’t reached their potential in what they could do for people living with disabilities. I was working on the Ready & Able sport program for people living with disabilities, and we began assisting TTPC in building executive and administrative capacity, as well as sport development at all levels.

Initially what I assisted with was getting their paperwork in order so they could apply for membership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). In late 2009, TTPC was ratified as an official IPC member. This means Trinidad & Tobago can now participate in any IPC-sanctioned games, such as the Commonwealth Games, Pan Am Games and Paralympic Games. Ultimately, this means there will be many more sporting opportunities for people living with disabilities in Trinidad to compete in sport and achieve their dreams.

There is one swimmer in Trinidad who has been training with an able-bodied coach, even though she has only one leg. She has been doing really well and has competed at a number of regional events because she can keep up with the able-bodied kids. But she is getting a bit older now and is starting to fall behind, so she is looking to participate in Paralympic sport. Now she has the opportunity to go to the Commonwealth Games and to get classified internationally so she can potentially compete in the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games in London.

By assisting the TTPC with administrative tasks like completing an application to the IPC, we were able to open doors for athletes living with disabilities to compete on an international stage and help break down barriers preventing them from reaching their goals.