I know I said this last week, but I’m happy to say it again and yes again and even more again *smiles*. The paralympic games have been a huge success, not just for the GB team (who have achieved brilliant things) but for the whole world in the spirit of highlighting disability sport. I do wear a hat sometimes and I’m more than happy to take this off in respect to the achievements of all involved in the paralympic games.
Whether its the olympics or the paralympic games, a lot of talk is put into the legacy of these events; the main element of this being participation in sport. It is hoped that by developing new facilities and publicising the games in general will inspire many to become involved in sport and therefore improve health, welbeing and the spirit of the nation. In terms of the paralympic games, it is hoped that not just participation in sport is increased, but public attitudes towards and awareness of Disability is improved.
Has it worked? I think in some ways it has and in other ways there is huge room for improvement. There are many sporting opportunities in various parts of the UK, that is giving chances to people to either experience sport for the first time or at least become involved in something new. Whether its tandem riding, football, swimming or many other sports, opportunities are increasing to a degree encouraging people to get involved. There have, however, been some instances when access to mainstream provision such as swimming pools and gyms, has been denied on grounds surrounding disability. This is the type of instance that should be changing more readily as a legacy from the paralympic games.
Will general public attitudes change in loght of the paralympic games? This is a question that I’m sure will bring a variety of subjective answers. In my experience, I don’t think it has in day to day life. I think there is a realisation that some people with disabilities do sport and its soemthing that is really out of the ordinary. There is still a huge misconception of what we can do, our aspirations and the fact that we’re not that alien like. My experience is that attitudes towards disability and indeed visual impairment have not changed at all.
I will be really interested to know what you feel has been the true legacy of the paralympic games? The above analysis aside, there is no doubt that the achievement of all athletes is fantastic and complete respect to everyone :).