A University of Tennessee professor was recently in Athens, Greece to experience history, as Toyota’s revealed its groundbreaking transformation from an automobile company to a mobility company at the forefront of the movement for accessibility and inclusion.
In October, Sarah Hillyer, Ph.D., director of UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, & Society, was the only university representative to travel as a panelist for the Toyota Mobility Summit, where the company organized key international leaders and influencers in inclusion to announce the “Start Your Impossible” campaign. Hillyer moderated a panel with Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist and the only athlete—male, female, disabled, non-disabled—to win four of the world’s major marathons in four consecutive years, and Deborah McFadden, a co-author of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I’m so proud of Toyota’s vision for the future of mobility,” Hillyer said. “And what an honor it was to talk with Deborah and Tatyana—both forces for social mobility and the power of sport to transform lives and policy.”
In Toyota’s official statement announcing Start Your Impossible, as well as the fully accessible Mobility for All website, the company explained that its vision of mobility extends beyond cars into innovative technologies that improve the quality of life of all people. These technologies include the three-wheel i-Road, the stair-climbing motorized wheelchair, i-Bot, the Human Support Robot, and the Physical Rehabilitation Aid Robot.
Dr. Hillyer with Japanese Paralympic alpine skier Kuniko Obinata and U.S. Paralympic wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden
Hillyer has spent almost 30 years leading sports projects for women, refugees, and people with disabilities in more than 15 countries. She and assistant director Ashleigh Huffman, Ph.D., founded the Center for Sport, Peace, & Society in 2012. Since its founding, the center has promoted inclusion of people with disabilities both locally and globally. In 2016, it partnered with the U.S. Department of State to lead Sport for Community, a mentorship-based program partnering international leaders in the disability sport sector with U.S. mentors at organizations such as the U.S. Olympic Committee, Lakeshore Foundation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, and the National Ability Center. Last year, the center and student-athletes in the VOLeaders Academy also organized the first UT Sports Fest, an inclusive sports festival where community members of all ability levels experienced adaptive sports and activities such as tandem cycling, blindfolded soccer, and sitting volleyball.
To find more information about the Toyota Mobility Summit, including photos and videos of the “Start Your Impossible” campaign, visit the following link.