It’s now two years since the amazing spectacle of the London Paralympics and, as we celebrate National Paralympic Day, I’d like to ask your readers to join me in paying tribute to the incredible life-affirming achievements of the Paralympic athletes of Team GB.
But not all people with disabilities can be Paralympians.
I work for Vitalise, a charity that provides much-needed respite breaks for people with disabilities and their carers, so we know a little about the reality of life for people with disabilities in the UK. The hurdles they confront in their daily lives are of a very different kind - hurdles of financial hardship, social isolation and exclusion. In overcoming these obstacles they are performing their own quiet heroics, day in, day out, with little recognition and even less support.
2014 has been a golden year for disabled sport, with the Commonwealth Games just finished and the Invictus Games coming up. The profile of people with disabilities in the media is approaching the heights of two years ago and presents us with a great opportunity to revitalise the Paralympic Legacy. After all the good work of the past two years, we must not allow people with disabilities to fade from public view and become invisible to society once again. We cannot let that happen.
People with disabilities want to play a part in society, to make a contribution, but too often they are held back by the negative attitudes of others. The 2012 Paralympics did an enormous amount of good, but until we start thinking in terms of what people with disabilities can do, not what they can’t, there is little prospect of any lasting change.
So I’d like to ask your readers to help us keep the Paralympic flame burning. Please join us in calling for a society where people with disabilities have the same opportunities to pursue their dreams and make a meaningful contribution to their communities as everybody else.
For more information about our vital work or to support Vitalise, visit www.vitalise.org.uk or call 0303 303 0147.
Colin Brook, Vitalise