By Brielle Carter, Program Coordinator
Photo by Loren Worthington
The philosophy and know-how developed at Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center now has global impact, as 360 was chosen by the US State Department and the University of Tennessee to host two international emerging leaders in the area of sports integration for people with disabilities. This diplomatic program builds on the success of the US Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program to empower women; Sport for Community is a counterpart mentorship exchange designed to promote disability rights and inclusion.
The University of Tennessee matched Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center with two emerging leaders, Oleksandra (Sacha) Nasadiuk of the Ukraine and Priyantha Peiris from Sri Lanka, based on their ambitious action plans and our vast knowledge and resources to ensure their success. While in Arizona, Sacha and Priyantha learned the history of the American disability rights movement and US sports culture. They visited the Grand Canyon, ASU and attended Diamondbacks and Mercury games, and many local attractions and restaurants that reflect Americana.
In the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, these emerging leaders worked side-by-side with their mentors to develop their strategic action plans, designed to create opportunities for people with disabilities in their home countries through the benefits of sports: expanded professional networks, increased independence, and enhanced health. Participants returned to Washington DC to share their perspectives as professionals in disability sports overseas and the business plans they developed with their mentors.
While Sacha and Priyantha developed an appreciation for our universal accessibility and openness to every ability, we became more aware of our own good fortune that adaptive sports are available in the US without the impediments to sports and recreation experienced abroad.
Oleksandra Nasadiuk “Sasha”
Deputy Head of International Relations of Ukraine Paralympic Committee (known in Ukraine as National Sports Committee for the Disabled)
Conflict currently affects her home region, Sasha looks to support and reintegrate Ukrainian soldiers returning from war with physical and psychological disabilities.
Freelance Disability Equality Trainer and Treasurer of Sri Lanka Paralympic Committee
Sri Lanka’s 30 year war has deprived many of social and sport opportunities, Priyantha wants to learn U.S. laws and disability acts that may be key components to social integration and sports in his country.
Brielle is an accomplished fitness trainer and educator with many years of experience in the field of fitness and recreation. At the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, she earned a B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in Strength & Conditioning and Wellness Promotion and a M.S. in Sports Management from East Stroudsburg University. She also is an adjunct faculty member for Mesa Community College and Arizona State University teaching courses such as Healthful Living and Introduction to Strength & Conditioning. Brielle holds certifications in Personal Training, Group Fitness, Indoor Cycling, Insanity, Level 1 Yoga Fit, and American Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor. Brielle is also a member of the National Intramural Recreation Sports Association.