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Springfield College Hosts Sport, Recreation Leaders from Azerbaijan

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Sport Management and Recreation Department recently hosted 17 sport and recreation professionals from the Republic of Azerbaijan, who came to learn about different sport and recreation programs for individuals in the U.S. living with disabilities.

The visit included organized lectures and informational sessions, along with a tour of the campus. The collaboration was made possible with the assistance of the Institute of Training and Development (ITD) in Amherst. ITD was awarded a grant funded by SportsUnited, a division of the U.S. State Department Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, to conduct a project that brings physical-education teachers and disability workers from Azerbaijan to Massachusetts to collaborate in learning how to promote and adapt sports for youth with disabilities.

“We were honored that Springfield College was selected to host the group from Azerbaijan and have a chance to share ideas and different teaching methods,” said Springfield College Sport Management and Recreation Department Professor Christie George. “We all share a passion for helping individuals with disabilities, and we were able to explain programs that work well here in the United States as well as witness some strong programs that are utilized in Azerbaijan.”

The visit to Springfield College was part of a three-week U.S. program in which Azerbaijani participants were involved in different learning and social activities with American counterparts focused on youth with disabilities. The program also included visits to disability organizations and schools providing direct contact with youth with disabilities and the programs that serve them.

“Professor George at Springfield College did a fantastic job helping the Azerbaijanis to imagine new ways to work with people with disabilities through sport and recreation in their country,” said ITD Executive Director Julie Hooks. “The ITD participants made great connections with the therapeutic-recreation graduate students, and we hope these will continue on into the future.”

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