The Paralympic medallist-turned-medical professional will talk on the importance of engaging all people with an impairment.
Seven-time Paralympic medallist and Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Cheri Blauwet has been confirmed as a keynote speaker at September’s VISTA 2017 Conference in Toronto, Canada.
A US Paralympian-turned-medical professional, Blauwet currently chairs the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Medical Committee and is also a board member on the United States Olympic Committee. She recently received the IPC International Women’s Day Recognition award.
“I am incredibly proud to be a keynote speaker for VISTA, representing the confluence of my experience as an athlete as well as a sport medicine physician with focus on serving the needs of Para athletes,” Blauwet said. “I am humbled to speak alongside many other talented leaders in the field.”
The theme of this year’s IPC science conference is “Opportunities, Challenges in Paralympic Sport Science & Sport Medicine Support.” Blauwet will present on the topic “More Than Just a Game: The Public Health Impact of Sport and Physical Activity for Individuals with an Impairment.”
“This lecture emphasises the importance of engaging all people with an impairment, from the grassroots to up through elite, in sport as a means of promoting population health,” Blauwet explained. “According to the World Health Organisation, up to 15 to 20 per cent of our global population are individuals with an impairment. It is incredibly important that we consider Para sport as a tool not only for elite competitive opportunities, but also to enhance and enrich opportunities for all individuals with an impairment to lead healthy lifestyles. When we think about the power of sport through this lens, it is easy to see how we can move the needle for global health promotion.”
Blauwet claimed one silver and three bronze medals at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, followed by one gold and a further two bronze at Athens 2004.
Following her athletic retirement in 2008, she has stayed active in the field, practicing sports medicine at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. At the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA, Blauwet serves as an assistant professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
Her published research has helped to increase participation in Para sports, studying injury rates and causes specific to Paralympic athletes and using sports to promote disability rights.
She will join Canadian Professor Laura Misener, who was also announced as a VISTA keynote speaker.
“I think that one of the most incredible things about VISTA is the opportunities it provides for like-minded individuals with a passion for Para sport to come together, learn from one another, and network,” Blauwet said. “Together, we are stronger. Although we have come far in promoting Para sport and elevating its profile, there is still much work to be done, and VISTA provides an opportunity for athletes, scholars and sport advocates alike to hone their knowledge in cutting edge topics related to Para sport.”
The VISTA conference, an IPC biennial event, is this year hosted by the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario. It is designed to provide a platform for sport scientists and researchers to meet with experts in the field of sport for athletes with impairments to discuss, exchange, and gain advanced knowledge in this area.
It was first held in 1993 and has since developed a global reputation for acting as a platform for debate, discussion and dialogue on key issues relating to the growth of the Paralympic Movement.