As the nation counts down to the start of the world's greatest sporting event, young people in Hong Kong are being called on to help promote the spirit of the Paralympics.
Twenty 'young advocates' aged 18 to 25 will be chosen to raise awareness of the role sport can play for young people with disabilities as part of a new British Council programme.
The Hong Kong advocates will join 220 others from around the world for leadership training to help them organise sporting activities and promote the need to include young people with disabilities in sports.
The young advocates, who may be able-bodied or disabled, will lead or participate in a range of sporting events in Hong Kong and abroad, including Hong Kong's first Paralympic School Day in July and the Beijing Youth Forum in September.
On Paralympic School Day several schools will hold sports days where students will get the chance to participate in events like wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and track and field events.
Able-bodied students will also be able to experience what it is like to compete in sports specifically designed for disabled athletes. After the Beijing Paralympics, an interschool Paralympic competition will be held in Hong Kong.
Katherine Forestier, the British Council's education services director, said the programme would support the spirit of the Paralympic Games and promote social inclusion around the world.
'We hope, once trained, the young advocates will mobilise other young people in their communities - disabled and able-bodied - to develop cross-cultural understanding through sport,' she said.
The programme, supported by the international and national Paralympic committees, will provide advocates with training in leadership and organisation, Paralympic knowledge, disability awareness, and communication and English skills.
The sports days will not end with the close of the Beijing Games, with advocates expected to continue organising school sports days until the London Games in 2012. 'It's promoting diversity and collaboration between disabled and able-bodied students,' Ms Forestier said.
Application forms for the young advocates programme are available at www.britishcouncil.org.hk/sports . Entries close on April 18.