Olympian Ryan Reser (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center), Paralympian Myles Porter (Colorado Springs, Colo. / USA Judo National Training Site at the Olympic Training Center) and 2007 World Team member Jeanette Rodriguez (Davie, Fla. / Ki-Itsu-Sai) were joined by 2008 Olympic Team Leader Leo White (Lilburn, Ga. / Waka Mu Sha) and several local judo players as they conducted presentations to students in 20 different classes throughout the day.
The sessions involved both demonstrations of the sport of judo as well as opportunities for students to try judo themselves. More importantly, students learned how judo can help them improve their quality of life under challenging physical circumstances.
"USA Judo is beginning a nationwide program to present the Olympic sport of judo to special needs populations in our nation's school systems with the target audience been the visually impaired. The goal is to find potential future Paralympic judo athletes while providing the visually impaired and others special need youth in the school systems with an opportunity to participate in this great martial art," said USA Judo CEO Jose H. Rodriguez. "It is USA Judo's hope that we can catch the interest of educators, administrators and community leaders to support several pilot programs throughout Miami-Dade County."
Judo was introduced into the Paralympic Games in 1988 as one of the most easily adaptable sports for blind and visually impaired children. With only minimal adaptations needed, blind and visually impaired athletes compete alongside their sighted peers in judo at tournaments of all sizes in the United States and abroad.
A legally blind former high school wrestler who began training in judo in college, Porter delivered a motivational message to all students that disabilities don't hinder dreams and goals. Porter is currently ranked #4 in the United States in his weight division and has aspirations of becoming the first blind athlete to compete for the USA Judo Team at the 2012 Olympic Games.