First-Ever Paralympic Biathlon Program Created

First-Ever Paralympic Biathlon Program Created

U.S. Paralympics and U.S. Biathlon recently announced a partnership to create the first Paralympic Biathlon program in the United States. Paralympic biathlon athletes will have the opportunity to train alongside U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team athletes at the U.S. Biathlon Team’s resident athlete program at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“This partnership will take Paralympic Biathlon to a new level and provide us with the foundation that we need to expand the sport,” Stacey Wooley, associate director of winter sports for U.S. Paralympics, said in a news release. “We are excited to initiate this program with such a strong partner.”

The program, with a goal of increasing the number of elite members on the U.S. Paralympics Biathlon National Team, will focus on attracting and supporting young athletes, including visually impaired individuals as well as injured service men and women. Earlier this year, athletes completed a dry-land training camp in Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games’ venue in Heber City, Utah.

Leading the effort for the new program is James Upham, the U.S. Biathlon Team development coach and member of the 2006 Olympic Team coaching staff. Based at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, Upham has coached biathlon and cross country skiing since he retired as a competitive biathlete in the 1990s. In 2006, six of his athletes qualified for the 2006 Olympic Team.

“Our goal is to stimulate the same level of professionalism in the training of the Paralympic Biathlon Team as we see with our National Team, and James Upham is the perfect coach to move this forward,” Max Cobb, U.S. Biathlon Association executive director, said in a news release.

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Penn State Program to Help Wounded Warriors

More than 65,000 military personnel have been wounded by hostile and nonhostile acts in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. In addition to advances in medical care, recreation programming is playing an important role in reintegrating these individuals into military, family and community life. To help these wounded warriors, Penn State has developed a first-of-its-kind training program for military recreation managers worldwide, a program the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has agreed to fund through 2011. The first is planned for Jan. 11-15 at University Park campus.

“The Inclusive Recreation for Wounded Warriors Program provides the knowledge, tools and resources recreation managers need to integrate active-duty wounded warriors into their existing recreation programs,” Ruth Ann Jackson, executive director of the Penn State Hospitality Leadership Institute and co-principal investigator for the project, said in a news release.

“Active participation in recreation promotes health and wellness, increases combat readiness and reduces incidents of suicide and destructive behaviors associated with PTSD,” Tammy Buckley, Penn State co-principal investigator of the Inclusive Recreation program said.

Carol Potter, recreation program manager, DoD Morale, Welfare and Recreation Policy, said, “Appropriate inclusive recreation programming has long been recognized as beneficial in helping the injured, the spouse and the children adjust to and thrive in their new situation. The Department of Defense is extremely pleased to be working with Penn State to provide this training.”

Joshua Watson, a Penn State senior in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, understands the value of recreation for military personnel.

“Coming to Penn State and being involved in inclusive activities on campus has helped me readjust to civilian life,” Watson, previously an Army military police officer in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, said.

He will talk about his experiences during the first Inclusive Recreation program.

“For wounded warriors, quality of life issues go beyond caring for their medical, psychological and vocational needs,” Wesley Donahue, PhD, director of Penn State Management Development said. “It can mean learning to play golf again or participating in new recreational activities.”

The Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management is collaborating with the School of Hospitality Management and Management Development Programs and Services for the education and training programs at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Academy. These outreach activities are part of Penn State Outreach.

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