PADS team to compete in Dragon Boat championships in Thailand
CEBU CITY, Philippines — More than bringing honor to the Philippines, the Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc. (PADS) Dragonboat Racing Team-manned Philippine Paradragon Elite Team, wants to bring their advocacy to the global stage.
That is to encourage more persons with disabilities (PWDs) to go out of their shell and find their place in the society when they compete in the first-ever Paradragon category of the 14th International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) World Nations Championships happening from August 20 to 25, 2019 in Pattaya, Thailand.
National coach Ailene Padrones said that the PADS team have had a world class level training for this history in the making event.
“Our level of training for this was world class level, we trained for three weeks, three times a day and seven days a week,” said Padrones.
Padrones was speaking during the sendoff for the team at the Quest Hotel and Conference Center wherein a Mass and blessing of the team and their equipment were also held.
The team was also presented with their jackets emblazoned with the Philippine flag, bags and new carbon-fibre paddles sponsored by Crossbones which would add power and speed to the team as the new paddles are lighter than the wooden paddles that the team has been using.
More than representing the Filipinos, paddler Gabriel Labra said that the stakes are high for the team in this event because winning means gathering a lot of PWDs to join in their advocacy.
“The stakes are high, this is just the start of the journey, we will not only represent ourselves, our family name, but we will be representing thousands and millions of Filipino PWDs who are until now imprisoned by the misconceptions and stereotypes connected to the disabilities,” said Labra.
Labra added that “winning is just secondary, what is important is that we can amplify our story.”
The team also want to send out the message that PWDs can co-exist with other communities who are not PWDs.
“We have the same rights, we have equal rights, we co-exist together and that’s our message,” said JP Maunes, the PADS founder and team manager.
This is the same message that Quest Hotel general manager Mia Leon wants to impart to the other industries in the Philippines.
“The main reason why I support PADS is that I really believe that PWDs in this country deserve a lot more services and they should be able to integrate with the whole country as a workforce,” said Leon.
Three members of the PADS Dragonboat Racing Team are employees of Quest Hotel.
The team will be leaving on August 19 for Pattaya, Thailand.
“This is not the end of our team, this is the start of a new journey,” said Maunes./dbs
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