A series of female athletes are being celebrated online to mark the International Day of Sport for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments (IDSAII) on Thursday (20 September).
The theme for this year’s IDSAII is firmly rooted in the INAS #WeAreSport campaign to encourage more female athletes to use social media.
By the end of September, 10 swimmers, track and field stars, tennis and table tennis #SportChampions will have taken part in seminars to give them the tools and knowledge to improve their digital presence. They have all been supported by administrators from within their INAS member organisations, ensuring the project can be spread to other athletes in the long term.
INAS is the International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairments and, for one week starting on 20 September, will publish athlete stories on inas.org and graphics featuring their social media handles to help build the following of the participants.
INAS has also published guides to setting-up and using social media in different languages on a dedicated section of its website for all athletes and members to access.
INAS Vice President Robyn Smith has been involved in the campaign as a firm advocate of women in sport.
“The athletes in #WeAreSport range from those just starting out to experienced Paralympians and world champions in a variety of sports,” Smith said. “But not all of them were getting the full potential from social media.
“We knew that we had to do something about the smaller numbers of women and girls with intellectual impairments taking up sport compared to boys and men. Social media seemed like a good place to start as it is accessible to billions of people around the world.
“We had a great response from the athletes and administrators involved. Many went away and immediately started using the ideas they had heard to set-up accounts on platforms they had not previously used, or posting different kinds of content to grow their fanbase.
“We have been delighted with the response and plan to grow the reach of #WeAreSport into the future, including at the INAS Global Games which Australia will host in Brisbane in 2019.”
One of the athletes to take part was US swimmer and Paralympian Leslie Cichocki.
Cichocki said she liked the fact that the sessions were a way of “getting more women involved in sports and having their voices and experiences heard.”
Egypt’s Rahma Khaled also took the aim of #WeAreSport firmly to heart: “I feel more confident, because I saw a new world and [I want] to help other people to become champions,” she said.
Stephanie Pitchian from the Singapore Disability Sports Council is helping swimmer Danielle Moi Yang Ting with her social media. Pitchian said that as a result of the campaign she feels more confident in supporting Moi Yang Ting online.
“She comes to me with different post ideas and she shares with me on how it would be engaging her followers,” Pitchian said.
Since the first wave of #SportChampions were announced in March on International Women’s Day, a further three athletes and three administrators have joined. That brings the total to 10 athletes from nine countries.
We want to support many more women and girls with an intellectual impairment - get behind our crowndfund campaign to help us find more champions like Leslie, Danielle and Rahma!