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VOLeaders Sports Fest
UT student-athletes, volunteer workers, and attendees after the conclusion of the inaugural Sports Fest in 2017.

UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society is hosting a series of campus and community events designed to celebrate sport and inclusion at the university. Sport and Inclusion Week began Sunday, April 22, and runs through Saturday.

As a part of the US Global Sports Mentoring Program, the center will welcome 17 international disability sport leaders—including current and former athletes, Paralympic executives, social entrepreneurs, and advocates—to Knoxville in the final week of the GSMP exchange program.

Each participant in the program is tasked with developing an action plan that explains the life challenges faced by people with disabilities in their countries and how sport can be used to address these challenges to ensure greater inclusion and accessibility.

“We believe in the power of sport to unite and inspire, and witness it every game day as we cheer for our beloved orange and white,” said Sarah Hillyer, director of the CSPS. “By engaging students, faculty, and community partners in Sport and Inclusion Week, we seek to raise awareness, promote understanding, and celebrate our differences and abilities.”

The 2018 GSMP class after an inclusive basketball training session with Special Olympics Maryland.

The participants will present their plans from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 24 and 25 at the UT Conference Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The week will culminate with the second annual UT Sports Fest, an inclusive sports event organized by UT’s student-athlete leadership program, the VOLeaders Academy. VOLeaders is a partnership between the center, UT Athletics, and the Center for Leadership and Service on campus.

Sports Fest will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at the Brenda Lawson Indoor Football Complex. The event is free but attendees must register by email.

Sports Fest will feature games, a costume contest with prizes, and an autograph session with the student-athletes.Attendees will have the chance to try adapted sports such as sitting volleyball and tandem cycling.

“As a student-athlete in the VOLeaders Academy, I have learned so much and look forward to the opportunity to give back,” said Garret Stallings of UT’s baseball team. “Our group is working hard to build a more inclusive culture on campus, and we believe that adapted sports are a strategic way to do it. We are excited to teach new games and to showcase how sport can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.”

To connect with GSMP on social media, use the hashtags #S4C2018 and #Sport4All on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram. For the VOLeaders Academy, use the hashtags #VOLeaders and #Sport4All on Facebook and Twitter.