July 21 - The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) have launched a new project which will see historians and experts from the University of Canberra, the University of Queensland and Wikimedia Australia use Wikipedia and social networking tools, as well as traditional historical research, to tell its story online and in print.
APC chief executive Jason Hellwig claimed that the project will help ensure that the cultural and sporting significance of the Australian Paralympic Movement is understood and recognised.
"We will assemble content from a variety of sources to engage the community and enhance the profile and presence of Paralympic sport," said Hellwig, who will be Chef de Mission for Australia at the London 2012 Paralympics next year.
"The result will be a rich, multi-dimensional history of the Paralympic Movement in Australia, which can be added to as the Paralympic Movement continues its rapid growth."
Experienced sports historian Murray Phillips from the University of Queensland has been recruited to lead the project and claimed he is very excited to be doing so.
"I have been writing sport history for over two decades, but the history of the Paralympic Movement is a unique opportunity and I am thrilled to be involved," Phillips said.
"It is unique because it combines traditional forms of history with the ways in which the sporting past is created in the digital age.
"This project will produce a book and online resources that capture the experiences of athletes, coaches, administrators and others who have generated the story of the Paralympic Movement in Australia."
In addition to Phillips' involvement, the University of Queensland will engage the University of Canberra, through its National Institute of Sports Studies (UCNISS), to manage the project's online components.
"The National Institute of Sport Studies is delighted and honoured to be a partner in this exciting venture," said UCNISS Director Professor Keith Lyons.
"We are keen to share our experience of open access publication in this project and to contribute to the flourishing of Australian Paralympic sport."
A key component of the project will be the establishment of an Australian Paralympic project through Wikipedia.
"Our Australian user group will assist members of the Australian Paralympic community to contribute to the Wikipedia content as Wikipedia editors, helping to foster the sense of a Paralympic community," said Wikimedia Australia President John Vandenberg.
"We will address the gaps in the information about Australia's contribution to the Paralympic Movement through the publication of a large number of articles on Wikipedia – the world's largest free content website."
A programme of outreach and support work will assist Wikipedia volunteer editors to engage with the Paralympic community to enhance Wikipedia's Paralympic coverage through articles which incorporate and link to images, videos, audio and websites.
To assist in this process, the APC is making available through Wikimedia Commons a significant proportion of its photograph collection of more than 35,000 images.
The first of these, from the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, are now available for free use through the Wikimedia Commons website.
The donation of photos will fill a gap in the availability of high quality images of Paralympic sport which can be used to highlight the achievements of this unique sporting movement. Photos from other Games and events will be progressively made available by the APC.
The project is part of the APC's commitment to collect, manage and preserve Paralympic history in Australia, and is one of a number of APC initiatives currently underway to ensure Australia's Paralympic history is accessible and understood.
Australia has sent delegations to the Summer Paralympics since the first Games in 1960 while they have also competed in every Winter Paralympics, which began in 1976.
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