Ambassador Liliana Ayalde Participates in the Launch of USAID-Blaze NGO First Sports Project for People with Disability in Brazil

On March 18, Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, along with Consul General John Creamer, visited the Vila Olímpica Parque das Vizinhanças Dias Gomes, in the neighborhood of Deodoro, where they participated in the launch of USAID’s first sports project for people with disabilities in Brazil.  The “Sports for All: Empowering People with Disabilities to Lead an Active Lifestyle” project will be implemented by Atlanta-based NGO Blaze Sports in partnership with SESCs, and governments at the local, state and federal levels in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília.  Ambassador Ayalde gave welcome remarks to over 40 guests, highlighting the partnership between the U.S. and Brazil to advance accessibility and rights for people with disabilities and mentioned the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Robert Horvath, USAID/Washington Director of the Office of Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) and Cynthia Frisina, BlazeSports Executive Director also made remarks, along with Pedro Spadale, from Rio de Janeiro State’s International Relations Office and the project’s ambassadors Wanderson Silva de Oliveira (world’s best athlete, soccer for people with cerebral palsy) and Anderson Dias (Paralympic gold medalist in 2004, soccer for people with visual disabilities).  After the remarks, the public went to the gymnasium to watch demonstrations of bocce with parathletes from Deodoro’s Military Village; dance and capoeira with youth with disabilities from the Olympic Village and soccer for people with visual impairments.  Ambassador Ayalde participated and interacted with participants in these activities, and she and Consul General Creamer were both blindfolded to test their abilities in a goal shootout with Anderson Dias, former Paralympian and president of the NGO Urece.  Present in the audience were five alumni from State Departement Sports programs: Gabriel Mayr (Sport For Community, Urece), Gabriela Pinheiro (Sport For Community, Luta Pela Paz), Luiz Fernando Laurito (Sports Visitor Disabilities, Rio2016), Flávia Alves (Sports Visitor Disabilities, Professor from MG) and Paulo Henrique Guerra (Sports Visitor Disabilities, Activist and Sports Manager from Recife).