U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR Rena Bitter attended the first-ever National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament on March 18, 2017. The event was funded by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The U.S. Government is committed to supporting integration of Persons with Disability (PWD) into society, working to remove barriers, and helping people improve their quality of life,” said U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR, Rena Bitter.
The tournament, held at Vientiane International School, marked the first time that players from Champasak, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Xieng Khouang provinces, along with teams from Vientiane, came together to compete. The tournament is part of the “Para Sports Awareness Raising Program through Development of Wheelchair Basketball in Local Provinces,” which helps empower persons with disabilities reach their full potential and be active in their communities.
The sub-grants are part of a $5 million grant USAID awarded to World Education Laos in September 2014. The project provides sub-grants to local and international non-profit organizations in four main areas: training medical and physical rehabilitation staff, increasing access to economic empowerment opportunities for people with disabilities and their families, providing assistive technology to people with disabilities, and improving availability of medical and physical rehabilitation services. The goal of the project is to create a country where persons with disabilities, especially women and girls, are empowered and enabled to attain and maintain maximum independence to fully and equally participate in all aspects of life.