Vice President Ana Helena Chacón hosted a breakfast Friday morning at Casa Presidencial to recognize Costa Rica’s Paralympic athletes and the country’s newly created Paralympic Federation at the end of a week observing the rights of people with disabilities.
“You all not only represent the incarnation of the human rights for people with disabilities to health, recreation and sport, you also represent the best of the human spirit,” Chacón said during the ceremony, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.
Costa Rican Paralympians, including well-known athletes such as cyclists Laurens Molina and Ernesto “Lobito” Fonseca, have yet to qualify for the upcoming 2015 Pan American Paralympic Games in Toronto. Several other Paralympians already secured their spots and are set to compete next year, including swimmer Cristine Bucheim and runner Guido Rodríguez.
The Costa Rica Paralympic Federation was created on Sept. 22 to provide resources to develop athletes’ talent regardless of their physical or mental limitations. The newly founded organization is headed by Paralympic table tennis athlete Domingo Argüello.
The event Friday closed the national week in observance of people with disabilities. On Monday, Chacón signed a decree that aims to improve training and work opportunities for people with disabilities in Costa Rica, some 58 percent of whom between 15 and 35 years old are unemployed, according to figures from the 2011 national census.
“First, we want to start by seeing these people as champions,” Chacón said, adding that many people do not think of people with mental and physical disabilities as athletes.
“Today, we’re breaking that paradigm,” she said.