Australian Paralympic History Project: October 2018 Workshop

A picture of the APC workshop with four of the participants creating and editing content for Wikipedia
Workshop participants

The Australian Paralympic History Project held a workshop in Sydney on the weekend of 27 and 28 October.

Tony Naar shared news of the workshop on the Project’s Facebook page (link).

Seven people attended the workshop. The project team were delighted to welcome a new member, Cecelia Hutchinson-Parsons. Cecelia came to the workshop after a week of volunteering at the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Cecelia created a Wikipedia article about the Iceroos (link) and helped update the 2018 Invictus Games article.

A picture of the Iceroos team
The Iceroos

The APC’s CEO Lynne Anderson visited the workshop as did the APC’s  Communications General Manager Tim Mannion. They met the workshop organiser, Tony Naar and Cecilia, as well as Ross Mallett, Greg Blood, Gary Osmond and Patricia Ollerenshaw.

Patricia is working on articles about the 2000 Paralympics at the moment.

Tony noted of the workshop:

Creating and updating Wikipedia articles about Australian Paralympic sport relies almost exclusively on a handful of volunteers, who do an incredible job. As a result of discussions on the weekend, we have decided that we will now pursue a ‘small scale’ approach of catch-ups in the cities where we have active editors and seek to expand these groups by individual contact and one-on-one support.

He added:

We desperately need to expand the core group of contributors to maintain this unbelievable project.

I do try to keep an eye on this project. It has made an enormous impact on the open sharing of Paralympic stories with an Australian focus. I do monitor the articles and hope to be more active in supporting the editing of the articles created and maintained by the project team.

For anyone thinking of finding ways to use their creative talents, this is a project most worthy of consideration.

Photo Credits

Sydney Workshop (Tony Naar)

Iceroos (World Para Ice Hockey)

History of the Australian Paralympic Movement: End of Year Report 2017

Australian Paralympian Ray Barrett with the bronze medal he won in the men’s 100m wheelchair 2 event at the 1972 Paralympic Games in Heidelberg, Germany.

The project to record the history of the Paralympic movement in Australia has been underway since 2011.

Tony Naar has shared details of activities in the project in 2017. The project is supported by volunteers. Some of the year’s achievements were:

  • The number of Wikipedia articles created through the project is nearing 1,000.
  • These articles continue to be collectively viewed around 120,000 times every month.
  • The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) introduced the hashtag #APCOnThisDay to recognise anniversary dates in the history of the Paralympic movement in Australia, using material from the project.
  • Donations and loans of photos, scrapbooks, uniform items and other materials were received from a number of Paralympians and past team officials, including Pauline English, Peter Pascoe, Julie and Eric Russell, Pauline Schreiber, Nick Dean, and others. These are being scanned, sorted and managed for use in the project.
  • Twenty interns (from Macquarie University and University of Western Sydney) have worked on the project at various times during the year. They have: updated the Paralympian contact list; implemented a strategy to recruit people for the archives project; developed a strategy and resources to recruit student volunteers for the Wikipedia project; and created a Facebook group for the project.
  • A new volunteer team of five has started work on organising the APC archive collection.
  • The oral history project with the National Library of Australia reached 54 interviews. The project will continue in 2018.
  • Ray Barrett was inducted into the Indigenous Paralympian honour board at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, thanks to detective work by Pat Ollerenshaw.
  • An e-history website has been started and will bring together all the diverse material created through the history project.
  • Project workshops were conducted in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Canberra and Perth.
  • Students at the University of Queensland have worked on Wikipedia articles and the e-history website content.

I have followed these developments in 2017 with great interest. I am delighted that young people are actively engaged in the project and sharing their energy with a core group of volunteers who are nurtured and supported by Tony Naar.

https://twitter.com/AUSParalympics/status/895180323306307585

Photo Credits

Ray Barrett (Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tiffany Thomas Kane (Twitter)

Ten years on, thinking about desire paths

This month, I will have been away from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for a decade.

The years seem to have raced by. My decade anniversary coincides with another AIS re-organisation.

I have tried to stay connected with my colleagues at the AIS but have stopped visiting the Bruce campus. Earlier this year (July), I wrote in response to Wayne Goldsmith’s Facebook post about the AIS.

My decade of absence, Wayne’s first line (“It’s breaking my heart’) and a visit to Sport Ireland for their High Performance Knowledge Exchange Conference have sent me off thinking about the place of the AIS in national and international sport.

There has been a consultation process in 2017 in Australia for a National Sport Plan that will be a long-term strategy for the whole of sport that will have four key pillars: participation, performance, prevention through physical activity, and integrity.

The Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport (2017) proposes a vision with four sub-components, and seven game-changers for the Australian sport community over the next twenty years.

My rewording of the vision uses strike through text:

For Australia to be the most an active sporting nation, known for its celebration of playinclusivity, integrity, thriving sports organisations, continued exceptional international success competitiveness in international competitions sport events, and a world-leading vibrant sports industry. (My emphases)

I am perplexed that we are aspiring to improve “our Summer Olympic performance from 10th in Rio to a top 5 place by 2036”. I had hoped that a visionary document for the 21st century might have gone beyond the sportive expressionism of a nineteenth century nation-state model.

Perhaps we might talk about optimising performance (at all levels) instead.

I could not find mention of ‘climate’ in the document. (It was not identified as one of the six megatrends in Australian sport in 2012.)

My decade away from the AIS and life in a rural community since 2007 have encouraged me to think about bottom up approaches to playful activity enriched by inclusivity and integrity. This to me is the essential transformation of a system that de-emphasises international success, celebrates personal growth  and acknowledges that performance at quadrennial festivals is a very small part of a much bigger task.

This task for me is to offer opportunities for young people to engage in physical activity and create desire paths one of which might lead to high performance sport. We can do this by valuing effort, championing integrity and inclusivity, and accepting that we are not defined by medal outcomes.

I am hopeful that the National Sport Plan in 2018 will provide an organic, long-term plan for the flourishing of play, games and sport in mid-21st century Australia … replete with expressive joy.

Postscript

I am using ‘desire paths’ in the way that Kate Bowles does:

is that it represents shared decision-making between separate users who don’t formally cooperate. So a desire path is both a coherent expression of collective effort, and completely unplanned — in fact, it’s the opposite of planning. Simply, each one puts her or his foot where it feels most sensible, and the result is a useful informal path that’s sensitive to gradient, destination, weather, terrain, and built through unspoken collaboration among strangers.

Photo Credits

No limits (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

The parsnip field home (Steve, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)