Wan Smol Bag in partnership with the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC) ditched the “DIS” and focused on “ABILITY” during their Para-Sports Day at Wan Smol Bag and Mele Beach last Thursday.

The message was clear; it is time for Vanuatu to recognize the potential people with disability can make, in not only sport, but the community as a whole.

Following on from the history making Commonwealth Bronze medal success by para athlete, Friana Kwevira, earlier in the year the VPC linked with Wan Smol Bag to facilitate the sports day to attract potential new para-athletes. The VPC partnered with the Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD) to invite people living in the community who may never have had the opportunity to play sport before to come and participate in the days activities. One parent of a participant from Pango exclaimed to their VSPD fieldworker the following day “my son had so much fun at the Para Sports Day yesterday, he did not stop talking about it all night and this made me so happy I was crying”.

VSPD’s energetic fieldworkers assisted their clients in trying each sport. Altogether there were approximately 35 people with disability who participated in the sports, mostly clients from VSPD and some of the members of the Rainbow Theatre at Wan Smolbag joined aswell.

VSPD Fieldworker, Sanory Restuetune, said of the day “sport is a great step in our client’s rehabilitation program to improve their health and take part in social activities, this has been a great program to encourage our clients to participate in sport and build new friendships”.

Physiotherapists, Albert and Manu, from Vila Central Hospital, and Knox Lanny and Erick Emele from the Disability Desk at the Ministry of Justice also assisted in supporting participants throughout the day; ensuring everyone had fun and felt included.

“This was a great opportunity to share my knowledge of the sport I love, Rowing, with lots of potential new para-rowers” said Elaine Moli of the Vanuatu Rowing Association, one of twelve of the National Sports Federations present during the day, of which 8 of these sports are a part of the Paralympic Movement. The day began with AFL, Cricket, Hockey, Boxing, Table Tennis, Athletics, Tennis and Beach Volleyball running come and try inclusive activities at the Wan Smolbag Sports Field.

Then following a delicious lunch put on by the Wan Smolbag nutrition centre the participants were taken to Mele Beach for the afternoons activities to try Swimming, Rowing, Va’a and Sailing. An incredible opportunity to try lots of new and exciting sports.

Jean Noel, the Sports Manager from Wan Smolbag and Vanuatu Paralympic Committee Executive Member said “it was wonderful to see new faces for para sports and I hope that this experience helps them to gain confidence and continue to try sports programs”. “Todays sports program was a success and I hope now the community will help people with disabilities in coming forward in being an equal part of the community, which is currently a challenge in Vanuatu” Jean said of the need for Vanuatu to get behind the ditch the “DIS” movement.

The Vanuatu Paralympic Committee hopes to continue partnering with these sports federations to build up the para sports program in Vanuatu and ultimately send a range of athletes across multiple sports disciplines to the 2020 and 2024 Paralympics.

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