Paralympic Fever and its legacy
By Dave Webber, Acting CEO, Livability
As a leading disability charity, Livability is delighted with the inspiring impact the London 2012 Paralympics has had on the national consciousness. Like the Olympics before it, they have been embraced and celebrated with a fervour and buzz unseen at previous Paralympic Games.
They have been important in raising the profile of disabled athletes and disabled people in general, in turn helping to raise awareness of the difficulties and challenges they face on a day to day basis. The Games have also shown that disabled athletes can achieve and inspire in the same way as non-disabled athletes.
Whether it’s been Sarah Storey haring round the Veledrome, roared on by a vociferous home crowd, Ellie Simmonds dazzling in the pool, or Oscar Pistorius wowing on the running track, disabled people have been shown in a positive light and have successfully captured the attentions, and hearts, of the world.
The increased publicity surrounding the London 2012 Paralympics provides a great opportunity to thrust the issues that most affect disabled people into the limelight. Transport and accessibility obstacles that prevent disabled people from getting around as freely as they would like to, government cuts to Disability Living Allowance that threaten the independence and freedom of those with disabilities. These are just two major issues that have a significant bearing on some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society.
The positive effect sport can have on the lives of disabled people can also be seen in Livability’s work. We run a specialist sports college, Victoria Education Centre, in Poole, Dorset, where students with physical disabilities and complex medical conditions are actively encouraged to get involved in a wide range of sports and activities. Victoria has superb sporting facilities, including a soft play area, fitness room, swimming pool and large, state of the art sports hall. An extensive programme of sport is offered after school and at weekends. These include athletics, table cricket, boccia, hockey, and wheelchair football.
The Paralympics, as well as showcasing the best in elite sport, have highlighted that disabled people don’t want to be pitied or patronised, they want to be treated as equals. Let’s hope Rio 2016 does as good a job as London 2012 in placing disabled people at centre stage.
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