It all started in 1984 with Monique Lefebvre’s desire to highlight the abilities and talents of people with functional limitations. Forty years later, Défi sportif AlterGo has changed the lives of tens of thousands of athletes.
The next edition will begin on April 21. As has been the case for the past 21 years, Jean-Marie Lapointe is one of the Challenge’s spokespersons. The actor, host and author is still as feverish as ever, a few days before the official launch of the activities.
In fact, on the road somewhere between Montreal and Quebec at the time of La Presse’s call, Lapointe pleads that this enthusiasm and concern for people living with physical or mental limitations also exist throughout year.
The Défi sportif AlterGo has had a definite impact on Quebec society, he acknowledges: “Forty years later, there have been giant strides. »
In fact, from its inauguration, the event filled a need: “Overnight, we were putting faces on humans that we considered almost subhuman. »
The next Challenge will bring together more than 7,000 athletes, from 110 schools, in 9 disciplines. Even though the event has grown considerably over the past 20 years, “I know that even today there are people who don’t know about it,” says Lapointe.
That’s why its mission is to “educate people who are in power or who have some power, because they have the means to make things happen”.
The Défi sportif AlterGo now extends over ten days. When Jean-Marie Lapointe first started getting involved, it lasted four days. “It means there are more and more participants, sports and schools. And all these people become ambassadors of the challenge. It is no longer just the spokespersons who can talk about it. It’s growing year after year because the Challenge is getting more and more popular,” he says.
Himself involved in various fields of activity of a social nature, with disabled, dependent and homeless people in particular, the 56-year-old artist understands with hindsight how much his link with the Challenge has transformed him.
“I taught myself to get rid of prejudices, judgments, discomforts and fears, because I was not around the difference. »
This difference, henceforth, is his daily bread. Over time, he recognized himself more and more in the mission and objective of the Challenge.
If he is motivated by the idea of including everyone in the pursuit of the common good and acceptance, he would like to pass his eyes to all his contemporaries, so that they can marvel at the same way as him. Jean-Marie Lapointe decided to see life, and the Challenge, with the eyes of the heart.
“They [athletes] love to take to the floor. For what ? Because with the way we look at them, we applaud them and we give them love, we make them feel human, useful… they feel it. So imagine when it is quite the opposite that they are made to live with rejection, pointing the finger at them because of their difference. In the challenge, we applaud them thanks to their difference. »
However, the success of the Défi sportif AlterGo is insufficient to change all morals. According to Lapointe, we must make sure to support these athletes before and after the Challenge. It’s all about representation and accessibility, on a small and large scale.
“How is it that when the Olympics arrives there are thousands and thousands of journalists from all over the world and three weeks later the Paralympics arrives and there is a thousandth of the journalists left? he asks himself.
In his opinion, “the media coverage has not yet matched the grandeur, not only of the spectacle that is offered, but also of the participants, who like Paralympic athletes, train like madmen”.
The work has been well under way over the past 40 years, he argues. He even finds all the interest, attention and investment related to the Challenge “fascinating”. The next step will be to walk, everyone, hand in hand, instead of running on their own passing the baton: “There have been giant strides, but we haven’t crossed the line yet. arrival everyone at the same time. »