Para-athletes to become visiting schoolteachers

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Paralympians may be going back to school — the Sports Agency is planning to ask athletes who have competed in Paralympic Games to visit and give special classes at about 1,000 elementary, junior high and high schools nationwide from fiscal 2023.

The program the agency is considering is aimed at giving students opportunities to acquire a deeper understanding of para-athletics and people with disabilities, for example by seeing and learning about prosthetic legs, wheelchairs and other para-sports tools.

The project is a successor to the “Olympic and Paralympic education” that spread to schools nationwide before the Tokyo Games in the summer of 2021. The agency hopes to gain the cooperation of the Japanese Paralympic Committee, as well as para-sports associations and leagues, so that various types of athletes, including those who have retired, can be sent to schools. The agency has included about ¥200 million for the project in its budget request.

Until now, when a school has invited athletes as part of Olympic and Paralympic education programs, the school and the board of education in the area have had to negotiate with the athletes individually. The agency is considering streamlining negotiation routes and building a system that makes it easier for schools to make such requests.

A major example of athletes serving as visiting teachers can be found in the Japan Football Association’s project from 2007 to dispatch athletes from various sports to elementary and junior high schools.

The Japanese Olympic Committee also started “Olympic classes” by former Olympians for junior high school students in fiscal 2011.