Chicago 2016, World Sport Chicago, U.S. Paralympics Launch Chicago Paralympic Development Program

Dec. 27, 2008, 11:34 a.m. (ET)
CHICAGO — Today, Chicago 2016, World Sport Chicago (WSC), U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), and ten partner agencies, announced the launch of the Chicago Paralympic Development Program. The program is the first of its kind in the country, and it aims to provide the visually and physically impaired with the expertise and resources needed to get involved in Paralympic sports. It will officially begin operation in February 2009.

“Traditionally, visually and physically impaired people face a number of challenges when they try to get involved in sports,” said Patrick G. Ryan, chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016. “There are a number of barriers, including inadequate coaching or equipment, or a lack of reliable transportation to training locations, which make it difficult to get involved. The Paralympic Development Program will provide expertise and resources that will allow more people to become involved with Paralympic sport.”

The Chicago Paralympic Development Program will initially be exclusive to Chicago and other areas of northern Illinois, with the goal of eventually replicating it in other cities across the country. The USOC will provide national team coaches to lead ongoing “train the trainers” clinics for local area coaches interested in Paralympic sport. The USOC will also be providing Paralympic coaches and athletes to participate in clinics which will introduce children to Paralympic sports, and provide them with the best coaching and equipment for each sport. At first, there will be an emphasis on cycling, judo and boccia. The three sports allow individuals with visual impairments as well as physical disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy to participate.  Expanding these underdeveloped program areas in Chicago as well as in the broader Paralympic community is important.

“We are very proud to be part of the new Chicago Paralympic Development Program,” said Charlie Huebner, Chief of U.S. Paralympics for the USOC.  “Regular physical activity has a profound and positive impact on the lives of people with visual and physical disabilities.  This world-class program will not only serve individuals in the local community, it will also play an important role in the expansion of Paralympic programs across the country.”        

“The launch of the Chicago Paralympic Development Program shows Chicago 2016 and World Sport Chicago’s commitment to establishing a long-term presence of Olympic and Paralympic sports in Chicago,” said Bill Scherr, chairman of World Sport Chicago. “We’re excited about the opportunity to continue to introduce Paralympic sports to the visually and physically impaired and equip them with the resources they need to succeed.”

The agencies partnering with Chicago 2016, WSC and U.S. Paralympics include the Chicago Park District, Blaze Sports of America, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Maine-Niles Special Recreation, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, Rockford Park District, Northeast DuPage Special Recreation, Western DuPage Special Recreation and Northwest DuPage Special Recreation.

About Chicago 2016
Chicago 2016 is a 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to seek the privilege of hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Chicago. The committee’s board consists of business, civic, athletic, cultural and academic leaders representing Chicago and the surrounding Midwest region. Patrick Ryan serves as the organization’s chairman and CEO.

About World Sport Chicago
World Sport Chicago (WSC) is an Illinois not-for-profit working to enhance the image, awareness and participation in Olympic sports across Chicago and to extend Chicago’s international outreach through and for sport and youth. Focused on promoting the development of recreational and competitive sport to the area’s youth, WSC works closely with Chicago 2016 and Chicago’s 2016’s Athlete Advisory Counsel (AAC) to provide sport expertise and athlete insight to the execution of these sporting events. WSC intends to aid Chicago in developing a sustainable, international sporting legacy as a real agent of social change for the city. William Scherr, an Olympic medalist in wrestling, is chairman of the board and Scott Myers serves as the executive director.

About U.S. Paralympics
U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and to promoting excellence in the lives of persons with physical disabilities. 

Mica Matsoff
+1.312.861.4826 (Chicago 2016 media line)