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Birmingham organizations to develop initiative to promote accessibility at international event.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Oct. 30, 2020) – When The World Games commences in Birmingham, Alabama in July of 2022, it will be the most accessible edition in the event’s 40-year history. Officials from the Birmingham Organizing Committee and Lakeshore Foundation today announced a new partnership that will focus on making The Games more inclusive of adapted sports, athletes, fans and experiences for people with a disability.
Together, the organizations will develop and implement A Journey to One World, One Games, an initiative for disability inclusion and access. The initiative will focus on four primary strategic priorities – establishing a diverse and representative steering committee; creating an inclusive and accessible athlete experience; enhancing accessibility and inclusion for fans; and, developing a training and education program for staff, volunteers and partners.
“Our goal for this program is to make The World Games 2022 a welcoming, accessible and inclusive event for all,” said Nick Sellers, CEO of The World Games 2022. “But beyond that, we also want to create a legacy for accessibility and disability inclusivity for Birmingham and future editions of The World Games – one that will last far beyond 2022.”
Lakeshore Foundation, a non-profit that provides services and advocacy for people with disabilities, also serves as an official United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Site.
“We are thrilled that The World Games 2022 is committed to creating a more inclusive and accessible experience for all athletes, staff, volunteers and fans through this partnership,” said Jeff Underwood, Lakeshore Foundation President and CEO. “As the leading partner for this initiative, we are excited to contribute our international experience in adapted sports and collaborate with the disability community and other disability-focused organizations to host the most disability inclusive World Games ever held.”
The partnership between Lakeshore Foundation and The World Games 2022 was ratified at the October meeting of the Birmingham Organizing Committee’s Board of Directors. At that time, Lakeshore President & CEO Jeff Underwood was also unanimously approved as the newest member of the board.
“Not only will this partnership enhance the legacy of The Games, but Jeff will add tremendous value to the Birmingham Organizing Committee through his vision and leadership,” added Jonathan Porter, Chairman of the Board of Directors for The World Games 2022.
In addition to the new disability inclusion and accessibility initiative, The World Games 2022 will also make history as the first edition of The Games to include an adapted sport. Low Point Wheelchair Rugby was added to the program as an invitational sport in April 2018.
“At The World Games 2022, we will have an adapted sport for the first time on our sport programme,” added Joachim Gossow, CEO of the International World Games Association. “We are looking forward to this new experience and we want to use the learnings from this debut to further develop our event in terms of inclusion in an elite sports event. This premiere shows how we see ourselves as an organization: We want to give the diversity of sport the central stage and to this diversity belongs for us also the adapted sport. It’s good that Birmingham has found a partner in the Lakeshore Foundation which has the experience and knowledge to ensure that this premiere will be a success. “
“Birmingham’s greatest legacy is its fight for tolerance and inclusion for all people,” added Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “It’s only right that the Birmingham Organizing Committee’s partnership with the Lakeshore Foundation establishes a more inclusive experience. This initiative ensures that every athlete and fan will have access to this historic event.”
The World Games 2022 Birmingham will take place July 7-17, 2022 and will generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact for the city.
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