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Team Misawa forges friendships during Paralympics sporting event

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Wayne Swindell, a Naval Air Facility security department watch commander, pushes himself in a wheelchair during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute game at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Kazumasa Taneichi, the Misawa City mayor, invited Misawa Air Base military members to participate in a Paralympic event in honor of the official Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Mai)

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Wayne Swindell, a Naval Air Facility security department watch commander, pushes himself in a wheelchair during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute game at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Kazumasa Taneichi, the Misawa City mayor, invited Misawa Air Base military members to participate in a Paralympic event in honor of the official Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Mai)

A Paralympics judge measures a hacky sack ball during a game of boccia held at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Throughout the day, attendees played goal ball and boccia, which is a tactical game comparable to shuffle board,  as well as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

A Paralympics judge measures a hacky sack ball during a game of boccia held at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Throughout the day, attendees played goal ball and boccia, which is a tactical game comparable to shuffle board, as well as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Noel, a Naval Air Facility-Misawa utilitiesman journeyman, throws up a “rock and roll” sign during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute game at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Kazumasa Taneichi, the Misawa City mayor, invited Misawa Air Base military members to participate in a Paralympic event in honor of the official Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Noel, a Naval Air Facility-Misawa utilitiesman journeyman, throws up a “rock and roll” sign during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute game at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Kazumasa Taneichi, the Misawa City mayor, invited Misawa Air Base military members to participate in a Paralympic event in honor of the official Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

A Paralympics attendee throws a ball during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute game at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. The Paralympics is an international multi-sport event for athletes with physical disabilities, held every four years in conjunction with the Olympic Games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

A Paralympics attendee throws a ball during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute game at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. The Paralympics is an international multi-sport event for athletes with physical disabilities, held every four years in conjunction with the Olympic Games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

A board displays scores during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute event at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Throughout the day, attendees played goal ball and boccia which is a tactical game comparable to shuffle board, wheel chair basketball and sitting volleyball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

A board displays scores during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute event at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. Throughout the day, attendees played goal ball and boccia, which is a tactical game comparable to shuffle board, as well as wheel chair basketball and sitting volleyball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

Paralympic attendees pose for a group photo during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute event at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. In honor of the official Paralympics taking place in Tokyo, in 2020, city officials worked with the Nippon Paralympics committee to bring a modified version to the Misawa community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

Paralympic attendees pose for a group photo during the Misawa City Paralympics tribute event at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1, 2018. In honor of the Paralympic games taking place in Tokyo in 2020, Misawa City is acting as the official host city of the Canadian Rugby Team and is holding numerous events throughout the next two years to bring greater awareness to Paralympic sports. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Collette Brooks)

MISAWA CITY, Japan --

Misawa Air Base partnered with local Japanese community members during a Paralympics sporting event at the Misawa International Sports Center in Misawa City, Japan, Dec. 1.

Paralympics is an international multi-sport event for athletes with physical disabilities, held every four years in conjunction with the Olympic games. In honor of the Paralympic games taking place in Tokyo in 2020, Misawa, as the official host city of the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby team, is holding numerous events throughout the next two years to bring greater understanding of Paralympic sports.

For this event, city officials worked with the Nippon Paralympics committee to bring a modified version to the Misawa community.

Misawa city’s mayor extended a warm invite to Misawa AB military members to participate in this unique event,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Lanning, a Naval Air Facility security department patrol supervisor. “Despite this being my first time working alongside the Paralympics committee, I felt welcomed and accepted throughout the game. This activity was exciting, unique and something we’d definitely do again.”

The participants found the experience to be wholly unique, due in large part to the para-athlete events in which they participated.

“We played sports you’d see at the actual Paralympic games,” explained Lanning. “The event geared toward individuals with disabilities.”

Throughout the day, attendees played goal ball and boccia, which is a tactical game comparable to shuffle board, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

“This gave community members a chance to forge new friendships and allowed everyone to practice and perfect their communication skills,” said Kohichiro Maita, the Misawa City deputy mayor. “The amount of cross-cultural exchange among the 12 teams was inspiring to witness. We brought everyone together, despite our differences, which continues to reinforce our strong and long-lasting community.”