Russia today marked 500 days to go until country’s first Paralympic Winter Games, which will be hosted in Sochi and begin on 7th March 2014. To celebrate this milestone date Sochi 2014 volunteers have already located and placed 500 accessible venues from dozens of Russian cities on the Accessibility Map; Sochi became the heart of the celebrations with the opening of an Equal Opportunities Park and with an outstanding "Class Mira" theater musical, and Paralympic lessons across the entire country marked the launch of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Education School Program.
In the build up to 500 days to go the Accessibility Map (www.kartadostupnosti.ru) – the unique interactive internet project has been launched by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee with the support of the International Paralympic Committee.
The new Accessibility Map website was presented and demonstrated by the President of Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko, the General Secretary of the RPC Mikhail Terentiev and Sochi 2014 volunteers to the guests gathered at the Park via a big screen. The volunteers together with the internet users will create on this website the complete list of barrier-free venues and infrastructure to make it easier for people with a disability to find places to play sport near to their home, sometimes for the very first time. The Sochi 2014 volunteers from 26 volunteer centers all over the country have already found and put on the map the data on 500 barrier-free venues in their cities.
The website has been expressly developed to take accessibility requirements into account, allowing a user to switch to an alternative version for visually impaired users with just one click of a mouse.
After the Paralympic Games, the project will be further developed, with the internet allowing the program to reach thousands of people online.
Equal Opportunities Park
In the center of Sochi the Equal Opportunities Park was the heart of the celebration. All visitors could speak with prominent Paralympic sportsmen and were able to try their hand at several Paralympic sports including sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, biathlon and basketball and had the chance to attempt to cross an obstacle course blindfolded. The guests of the Park also got into the spirit of the Winter Games by ice skating, playing table hockey and taking photographs with the Paralympic Champions and mascots of the Paralympic Games, the Ray of Light and the Snowflake.
The Park's guests of honor included the President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, General Secretary of the Russian Paralympic Committee, Mikhail Terentiev and the Mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov.
The guests of the Equal Opportunities Park also watched a scene from the outstanding "Class Mira" theater musical, which actively includes children with a disability and provides them with an opportunity to participate in leading theatrical performances. The full premiere will take place in the Sochi Winter Theater on 27th October as part of the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad. The star roles in this unique performance will be played by leading talents including Andrei Merzlikin, Artur Smolyaninov, Maria Golubkina and Ekaterina Volkova.
A Paralympic lesson took place for schoolchildren in the Equal Opportunities Park. The lesson was held by RPC General Secretary, Mikhail Terentiev, "Sochi 2014 Our Champion", Ivan Goncharov and Sochi 2014 Ambassador, Sergei Shilov. To further celebrate 500 days to go, Paralympic lessons took place across the entire country, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, and marked the launch of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Education School Program.
The Paralympic lessons throughout Russia were not only held by teachers, but also by Sochi 2014 volunteers who organized 500 lessons in different cities. Sochi 2014’s Official Supplier English First (EF) introduced all those taking lessons to their online language school, Englishtown, and gave out gift cards towards the study of English language.
A video version of the "London 2012 - Sochi 2014" lesson was also uploaded today on the official Sochi 2014 website, http://www.sochi2014.com/games/education/education_program/. The video was shot at the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee's Moscow office on 1st September 2012, the first days of the Paralympic Games in London, and included Russia’s Paralympic athletes.
Sir Philip Craven, IPC President said:
“I am delighted that to mark 500 days to go until the Winter Games, Sochi 2014 is launching its innovative accessibility map. This project will help generate awareness across Russia of accessible facilities and is a project that, with the help and support of the IPC, could act as a blueprint for other countries to follow. Planning for the launch of this project started some time ago under the supervision of the IPC and I am pleased to see it come to fruition to mark 500 days to go.”
Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, marked:
"In 2014 Sochi will host the first Paralympic Games in the history of Russia. I am sure that the high accessibility standards that will have been set in the Olympic region by 2014 will be needed in other cities across the whole country, and our efforts in passionately promoting the Paralympic values will help to remove the “barriers” in society towards people with a disability forever".
Mikhail Terentiev, the General Secretary of the RPC, noted:
“The Accessibility Map is a completely unique project for Russia. Its uniqueness lies not only in it being the first interactive map of the sports venues for people with a disability, but also in the fact that it is created from and will be added by the data received from the residents of Russian cities. Every resident of Russia can contribute to the creation of a barrier-free Russia which will make it possible for people with disabilities to lead an independent lifestyle and to actively participate in the development of our society."
Sergei Shilov, Sochi 2014 Ambassador, underlined:
"I am delighted that the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee has undertaken such a significant and groundbreaking project. Thanks to the Accessibility Map, so many people will be able to engage in sport who previously did not have the opportunity, helping them to enjoy all the benefits that playing sport can bring and be fully included in society”.