On the 6th and 7th of April 2019, the sports diplomacy organisation Save the Dream, organised the International Youth Forum ‘When Sport Breaks Down Walls.’ Save the Dream implements and promotes activities to empower youth through safe access to sport and to its educational and social values. Held in Berlin, the forum coincided with the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace and was an important step in promoting the use of sport for youth leaders as a tool of public diplomacy. It kicked-off a global campaign to raise awareness on the importance of using all possible peaceful means to break down walls which still exist today.
The Forum gathered eighty youth leaders from around the world and the messages conveyed during the event reached a global audience of more than 713,000 people. Those in attendance took part in the White Card Campaign (an online campaign organised by Peace and Sport that raises awareness for peace through sports) and the youth leaders worked together to produce a Final Declaration, that all attendees pledged to promote and to further support.
A report was published on November 9, 2019 marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall and reflecting on the outcomes of the International Youth Forum. In reading the report, it is clear that there remains a lot to be done, but it also offers a strong reminder of the achievements which are possible when working together. It echoes a positive message of unity within society, while focusing on the power of sport to inspire and empower people across nations, regardless of faith and socio-economic condition.
CCSE Professors, David McGillivray and Gayle McPherson recently returned from a week in Tokyo, Japan, as part of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded Japan-UK project focused on the Paralympic Games and Social Change. The project is designed to build Japanese research capacity around disability studies and sport to positively impact the lives of people with disabilities. In March 2019, six Japanese colleagues visited the UK to learn about disability sport studies and visit Stoke Mandeville, while in June UK colleagues visited Tokyo for a week to understand more about the way the Paralympic Games 2020 are to be leveraged to the benefit of people with disabilities in Japan. Professors McGillivray and McPherson participated in a tour of games venues, helped host a policy forum and shared future research plans during a symposium held at the Houses of Parliament, attended by members of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, government ministers and Japanese academics in the field of disability sport.
Parasport events like the Paralympic Games are often heralded for raising awareness of disability-related issues and for transforming attitudes towards people with a disability in the host nation, and internationally. However, building on several large comparative research projects undertaken over the last five years, Professor’s McGillivray and McPherson have demonstrated the need for concrete, resourced and effectively leveraged strategies if the enthusiasm and excitement generated by events is to be sustained in the longer term.The project continues until December 2019 and progress can be followed at http://paralegacy2020.net/about/.