This week we are talking about the history and power of the Paralympics. The Paralympics started because of the Paralympic Movement and dates back to over 100 years ago!
The first sports clubs for the deaf began in Berlin, just before 1888. After World War II, the concept of sports for athletes with an impairment took off. The idea was manifested from the many war veterans and civilians who had been injured during the war.
In 1944, Dr. Ludwig Guttman was ordered by the British Government to open an office for spinal injuries. This centre was to be opened at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain. The sports practices eventually developed into competitive sports for the impaired.
Dr. Guttman is the man who started both the Paralympic Movement and Paralympics. Not only did he believe that the power of sports changes lives but he proved it. His goal was to help rehabilitate those with disabilities, help build their strength and confidence.
The first Paralympic Event was organized on Jul 29, 1948 for wheelchair athletes. This was also the opening date of the London 1948 Olympic Games. It was called the Stoke Mandeville Games and marked a huge milestone in Paralympic history. Both men and women participated. Four years later, Parathletes from Holland participated and the Paralympic Movement was born.
As many countries around the world started their own version of the Paralympics, global popularity quickly grew. In 1976 the first Paralympic Winter Games were held in Sweden. On September 22, 1989, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) was launched. The global not-for-profit organization acted as the ministry of the Paralympic Movement.
The Paralympic Movement shows how far our culture has come in terms of inclusivity. It’s a reminder of how powerful sports really are. The Paralympics have been able to give athletes with a wide range of disabilities an equal chance to exhibit their athleticism in front of the world.