Student-Athletes Launch Sports Fest for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

UT student-athletes will partner with campus and local community organizations from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 30, to present the first-ever UT Sports Fest, an event to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in sports.

The free event will be held at the Robert E. White Indoor Field in UT’s Anderson Training Center. Participants are required to register.

Sports Fest is the brainchild of 16 students in the VOLeaders Academy, a yearlong leadership program that teaches student-athletes how they can use their sport and influence to bring about positive social change. The students represent 13 teams—football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s golf, soccer, volleyball, softball, rowing, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s swimming, and women’s swimming.

2016-17 VOLeaders Academy members

Sports Fest attendees will have the chance to try adapted sports such as sitting volleyball and tandem cycling. It will feature games, a costume contest with prizes, and an autograph session with the student-athletes.

Liz Baker, a visually impaired triathlete from Signal Mountain, Tennessee, who represented the United States at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, will speak.

“As a two-year veteran of UT’s football team, I have received so much more from VOLeaders than just athletic opportunities,” said defensive end Kyle Phillips. “This event is an opportunity to celebrate our abilities and make sure people with disabilities are recognized and included on this campus. It’s a way for us as student-athletes to give back to a campus and community that has given us so much.”

The VOLeaders Academy is joining with the FUTURE Program, a two-year certificate program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as Club Vibes, a program that assists blind and visually impaired young people in living independent lives, to present Sports Fest. The event is also supported by two national partners, the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes and the Anthem Foundation.

The VOLeaders Academy is a partnership between UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, Center for Leadership and Service, and Athletics Department. Student-athletes involved in the program will complete their one-year experience with a sports-based service-learning trip to Vietnam in July 2017.

To follow the VOLeaders Academy on social media, use the hashtags #VOLeaders and #Sport4All on Facebook and Twitter.

CONTACT:

Ashleigh Huffman (502-517-1081, ahuffman@utk.edu)

Caitlin Ryan (865-974-9656, lryan1@utk.edu)

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, tyra.haag@utk.edu)