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Sports open doors to a world of opportunities for disabled youth

James Dooley Sullivan's picture
© Jaron Johns / U.S. Dept. of State in cooperation with University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, & Society
© Jaron Johns / U.S. Dept. of State in cooperation with University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, & Society


For Leroy Phillips, perseverance is second nature. Born into poverty and denied an education as a child, the young Guyanese leader went to pursue a university degree and become an internationally-recognized disability rights advocate. Through the confidence he gained from competitive sport, he has made his name as a radio presenter and a key leader in the development blind cricket and other sports for persons with disabilities in Guyana. 

Despite not being able to see, Phillips’ vision for the future couldn’t be clearer. In fact, the disability rights leader, who played for the West Indies at the 2017 Blind Cricket World Cup in India, is just getting started.

For three weeks, he will be mentored at the University of Texas-Arlington by Doug Garner, the university’s men’s wheelchair basketball coach and associate director of campus recreation for adapted sports, as part of the Global Sports Mentoring Program, a U.S. Department of State exchange program implemented in partnership with the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society.

Upon completion of his mentorship, Phillips will develop an action plan to loop more physically and intellectually disabled peers in Guyana into a sport to help them develop their own confidence; and, over time, to spur another generation of athlete advocates for social inclusion.

Despite Phillips’ success, persons with disabilities—15% of the world’s population—continue to be marginalized due to accessibility challenges, social exclusion, and a lack of educational and sports opportunities. Youth with disabilities are among the most marginalized and poorest, suffering from exclusion, abuse, as well as a lack of educational and economic opportunities.

Leroy Phillips on Disability-Inclusive Sports and Education


Watch the above video in which we speak with Phillips on what difference disability-inclusive sports have made to his life, and how sports can swing open doors for people like him to a world of better opportunities and limitless possibilities.

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