SOCHI, March 07. /ITAR-TASS/. With less than a day left before the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games kick off in Sochi, volunteers tune the Russian Black Sea resort city to vibrant atmosphere by helping the venue to be more accessible.
Volunteers’ flamboyant outfit bearing the symbols of the Winter Paralympic Games can be easily spotted as guests and participants descend their aircraft at the Sochi International Airport upon their arrival.
Most of the volunteers have extensive experience in helping the Paralympic athletes, but some recently arrived and are willing to help nevertheless.
“I have just arrived here in Sochi, but I will show you the way how to get to the bus you need,” Lyudmila, a middle-aged volunteer, told Itar-Tass correspondent when asked how to get to the destined location.
As the comfortable bus was making its way from the Media House to nearby hotels it stopped to pick a bunch of volunteers, who finished their shifts for Thursday.
The driver of the bus said it was his first time, when he had to operate an extending ramp to help a wheel-bound volunteer to enter the vehicle, and did it professionally.
After the volunteer wheeled inside the bus, the driver told him through loud speakers to put the wheelchair on the brakes and then asked other passengers to see that the volunteer is safe.
The team of volunteers has around 7,000 people from hundreds of Russian cities and towns, over 400 coming from 60 countries outside Russia, while dozens of volunteers are with disability. The average age of volunteers stands at 25.
The majority of volunteers already have experience in serving sports events for people with disabilities. They underwent training courses in volunteer centers at the Sholokhov Moscow State University for Humanities and the Russian State Social University in Moscow.
Most of them worked at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London as well as at the test Paralympics in Sochi during the 2012-2013 season.
The recruitment of volunteers was based on contests, which were held at 26 Volunteer Centers set up with higher education institutions across Russia. The eligible age of volunteers stands between 18 and 80 years.
According to the 2013 World Giving Index (WGI), Russia was ranked in the 8th place in the top ten countries in terms of the highest number of people volunteering.