After losing her right leg in a car crash as a Japanese high school student, Kaede Maegawa was grateful when her friends offered her support. Yet sometimes she felt like she wouldn’t be able to do anything on her own.
In order to regain her confidence, she asked her friends and teachers to let her try to do things on her own. This launched her on the path to becoming an elite athlete and competitor at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Ms. Maegawa shares her story at the SDG Zone Roundtable in Tokyo, where three inspiring Paralympians talk about the power of sport to broaden horizons and what Paralympic values mean to them – courage, determination, inspiration and equality.
Ms. Maegawa, who competes in the long jump, is joined by famed Sierra Leonean table tennis para-athlete George Wyndham, and Miki Matheson, three-time Paralympic gold medalist in ice sledge sprint racing.
Breaking down barriers with technology
The innovations showcased in the Paralympic Games can potentially help all people with disabilities, says Ken Endo, CEO of tech company Xiborg, in a conversation highlighting technology, design and initiatives that make sport more accessible and enjoyable. for everyone.
Mr. Endo is leading a project to make a race-specific prosthesis called a ‘blade’ accessible to everyone, not just athletes, and is working to break down various barriers, especially in developing countries, by exploring how Locally available materials can be used to develop blades and increase the number of people using prostheses.
The panel also includes Lucy Meyer, spokesperson for the Special Olympics-UNICEF USA Partnership for Disabled Youth, and a five-time Special Olympics gold medalist swimmer.
Ms Meyer, who also suffers from cerebral palsy, says doctors told her parents she wouldn’t be able to sit up or swallow, but “we’re so happy to report that the doctors were wrong. ! “
She is very active in the Special Olympics program which allows disabled and non-disabled children to compete together in team sports. “It is important for me that everyone accepts and includes everyone, but especially people with disabilities, because we are no different.
To look forward
The latest SDG Zone session in Tokyo examines what sport can bring to the next generation and how it can help societies recover from and improve upon the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Sudanese Olympic athlete Abraham Guem, recounts the many challenges he, his team and the host city of Maebashi’s team faced during the pandemic, with the unexpected benefit that due to the postponement of the Games, he was able to spend more time in Maebashi than expected, making connections and making friends with the locals.
Maebashi Mayor Ryu Yamamoto speaks of the positive experience of hosting South Sudanese athletes, and believes the city has changed as a result. “Everyone must have felt encouraged to see these young people, from a place so far from Africa, absorbed in intensive practice.”
Turning to Paris 2024, Roxana Maracineanu, French Minister of Sports and Olympic medalist swimmer, shared her hope that the path to the next Olympic and Paralympic Games will foster closer collaboration between sports movements, sports education in schools and various sectors to enable everyone to harness the power of sport to improve the world.
The SDG zone in Tokyo
- SDG Media Zone brings together global leaders, influencers, activists, experts, content creators and media partners to highlight actions and solutions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The SDG ZONE in TOKYO is organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC), the United Nations Information Center in Tokyo (UNIC Tokyo) and Asahi Shimbun, a founding member of the SDG Media Compact.
- It is the first in the SDG Media Zone series to be fully organized by a DGC country office.
- The first half of the online discussion took place from July 28 to 30, on the occasion of the Olympic Games.