Paralympic Spirit Celebrated in New Sino-German Exhibition
A Unique Collaboration Between Heidelberg and Beijing Municipal Archives Fosters Spirit of Friendship, Cooperation and InclusionAugust 22nd, 2016
"The Paralympics Spirit -- From Heidelberg to Beijing" exhibition has opened in the Olympic Training Center in Heidelberg. The Beijing Municipal Archives and the Heidelberg Municipal Archives have collaborated on this unique exhibition about the paralympics and sportsmanship. Visitors can try out conventional and racing wheelchairs to get a better idea of what it is like to have impaired mobility.
The exhibit also looks back at Heidelberg‘s host role in the 1972 Paralympics and Beijing's host role in the 2008 Paralympics. Visitors can have a look at display panels, historical photos and watch a short film about the Beijing Paralympics. The history and the achievements of its participants are showcased in a multicultural context.
The paralympics have changed significantly since their beginning in Heidelberg. The Heidelberg games in 1972 only included 930 participants from 41 countries, compared to 4000 athletes from 147 countries in Beijing.
Chinese people with disabilities benefitted from their country hosting the Paralympics, as measures were taken to facilitate their integration into society. New accessible public facilities were built, mobility became easier and more convenient and new rehabilitation services, education and employment opportunities were created.
Staff from the Heidelberg and Beijing Municipal Archives were present at the opening ceremony, along with members of the Chinese Consulate in Frankfurt and, most importantly, some of the participants of the 1972 paralympics.
The exhibition does not only reflect the history of the paralympics, but, more crucially, it tries to project the future of the paralympics: the social inclusion of disabled people.
Dr. Peter Blum, the director of the Heidelberg Municipal Archives, has expressed his hope that the archives will have a special role in inclusion. They should make cultural heritage accessible to help to achieve a solution to both contemporary and future problems.