A new exhibition featuring the “You Are. You Can” programme of the Paralympic Games was opened at the Alfa shopping centre in Rīga today. The exhibition features 52 photographs produced by Juris Bērziņš-Soms, illustrating 15 different sports from this year’s Paralympic Games in London. The exhibition has been organised by the Citadele Bank in partnership with the Latvian Paralympic Committee, and this is part of a range of activities related to the “You Are. You Can” project.
The exhibition at Alfa will remain open until November 25, after which it will presented in other Latvian towns right up to the end of next year. Information about the travelling exhibition will be available on the Citadele homepage and on the bank’s social profiles.
Juris Bērziņš-Soms has been a sports photographer since 1966, but he is the first one in Latvia to photograph paralympic sports. “The exhibition is not just about sports,” he says. “It is about the joy of life which people have in that in spite of their fate, they can achieve astonishing results, thus filling their lives with a purpose and with happiness. Winning the competition is not always the main thing. Far more important is winning when you deal with yourself.”
“In the area of social responsibility, the Citadele Bank has identified the goal of improving the ability of people with different abilities to become included into society, also popularising courage and strength to do things among the public at large,” says Citadele Bank board chairman Guntis Beļavskis with pride. “We launched the ‘You Are. You Can’ movement with the goal of supporting Latvia’s paralympians at this year’s games in London. This was an unprecedentedly large programme to support them. Now that the athletes proved what they could achieve we’re going to be expanding the programme to raise the self-confidence of the people at large, as well as each of us individually. We have already seen the first result of these shifting attitudes – the president of the Latvian Paralympic Committee, Daiga Dadzīte, has been elected to the Latvian Olympic Committee as an individual member, and government bonuses paid to successful athletes have been evened out for the paralympians and those who take part in the Olympic Games themselves.”
The president of the Latvian Paralympic Committee, Daiga Dadzīte: “We see that the ‘You Are. You Can’ movement has inspired people. Nearly 20 differently abled people have approached the Latvian Paralympic Committee since June to take part in various sports. I hope that this photo exhibition from Juris Bērziņš-Soms will be another way of helping people with differing abilities to become involved in society and in sports. We hope that parents who have children with different abilities will be able to involve them in an active lifestyle. Information about all of this will be made available in brochures that are going to accompany the travelling exhibition.”
Health Minister Ingrīda Circene said at the opening of the exhibition that “even though we are a comparatively small country in this vast world of ours, Latvia’s name has been recorded in the history of sports for all time and all eternity. Our paralympians showed that even when life creates difficulties and obstacles, these can be overcome, and with relentless work and purpose, a great deal can be achieved.
Welfare Minister Ilze Viņķele: “This exhibition is a brilliant reflection of last summer’s Paralympic Games. I am delighted about Latvia’s athletes and their achievements, because once again we see that the force of will is the strongest engine for any human being. I hope from the bottom of my heart that none of us will lose the force of will and belief in ourselves!”
The director of the Sports and Youth Department of the Ministry of Education and Science, Ulrika Auniņa-Naumova: “You have to overcome a great deal in yourself to become an outstanding athlete, and you must overcome an even greater number of external and social battles to become an outstanding individual. People who have achieved athletic excellence and inspire and delight everyone, learning in response that they can believe in themselves and that there are so many people in the world who are delighted at their successes.”
“We are honoured that this travelling exhibition is starting here at Alfa, and that clearly shows that human capabilities and abilities have no boundary,” says Alfa director Zigmunds Vīķis. “In viewing this exhibition, each of us can think about whether we are making use of all of the opportunities that we receive in life and in our everyday situations.”
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