Our outreach project mint & pepper has recently developed the CYBATHLON @school Home Challenge, which raise awareness on the topic of disability and inclusion. The program consisted of one broadcasted challenge per day, published on the mint & pepper’s website and Instagram, over the last two weeks. The challenges were about experiencing daily tasks differently and better understanding how people who are blind, moving in a wheelchair or walking with prosthetic legs, execute these tasks. The primary target audiences were teachers and their school classes or parents and their kids.

Two times a series of 3 challenges has been conducted, respectively ending in a Zoom interview, where the participants could ask questions to Rüdiger Böhm, CYBATHLON @school ambassador and athlete, and Chantal Cavin, former World Champion in Paralympic Swimming and Ironman Triathlete. They both shared their experiences, explaining how their lives have been impacted and evolved with today’s technological innovations, and their lives before, without them. They both did a great work in sensitizing others on the topic of disability.

Those two weeks of Home Challenges are a great example of mint & pepper’s work. The team empowers the younger generation to discover and master the MINT subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Together with the CYBATHLON ETH team, they usually bring modules into schools, raising awareness on the lives of people living with physical restrictions and how technologies can support them in becoming independent and autonomous. As this year’s program has been postponed, the team came up with an additional concept responding to the circumstances of everyone being at home: “The CYBATHLON @school Home Challenge”. The team received several positive feedback. One mother wrote to them: “My kids have responded to your challenges with great enthusiasm and full commitment. The participation was a valuable experience for all of us!” After the successful completion of this first phase of the project, the mint & pepper team decided to keep these modules of challenges in their program. 

All the material on the challenges can be requested in the form of a dossier for teachers. At the moment this dossier is mainly in German. This can be found at the mint & pepper website, https://www.mintpepper.ch/ 

More to Rüdi and Chantal below: 

A little about their backgrounds: next to competing in sports, Chantal worked for 18 years in a bank and works now as an assistant of the management at the Maru Dojo Health and Sportcenter and is a Project Manager at PluSport. She has worked hard to be seen as suitable job candidate, now working as everyone else, just doing most tasks with her refreshable braille display instead of a computer with a screen. Chantal however talked about her experience having had to explain employers too many times, how blind people work. She wishes for others that people receive a better education on the topic. In the Zoom chat, a participant asked if she would want to see again. Chantal explains that she has been blind since the age of fourteen and has lived longer without sight than with sight. Even if future innovations could enable her to see, she would not want her life to change. She likes it as it is and says it would probably give her another huge shock seeing all her friends and herself looking older than she remembers.

Rüdi lost his legs after a tragic accident when he was 27 and ever since masters his life with a wheelchair and two prosthetic legs. Rüdi said: “I studied sports; I know what it means to fight.” After having worked for a long time as a football trainer, he is now self-employed and author of several books. Rüdi finds relaxation in sports. Despite sports being very demanding for the body, when practicing sports, everything feels easier and it often helps him finding new solutions. The more demanding the activity of doing sports is, the more his mind focuses on the present, and the more he can relax.