Young disabled campaigners have issued a five-point manifesto that describes the positive legacy they want to see from the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The five recommendations come from young “ambassadors” of the disability charity Whizz-Kidz, which provides wheelchairs and other mobility equipment to disabled children.
In a new Whizz-Kidz report, Generation Inspired?, they say they want to see schools, disability sports clubs, young people and families working together to share their expertise and facilities, in order to improve sporting opportunities.
But they make it clear in the report that they also want to see a non-sporting legacy from London 2012.
They want young disabled people to play an “active role” in shaping decisions that affect their lives.
And they want employers to do more to provide accessible work placements and internships, they want better access to public transport, and they want to see more young disabled people “visible” in media, fashion and advertising.
One of the charity’s network of young disabled ambassadors said: “I want to see people with disabilities in more prominent places, such as in business, politics, the media and the arts world.”
Research for the report, based on the views of the ambassadors – and their parents – found two-thirds of young disabled people said the Paralympics had inspired them to get involved in sport, although more than two-thirds of the parents who took part in the survey said their children’s schools did not play any Paralympic sports.
The research found that more than 90 per cent of disabled young people had watched last summer’s Paralympic Games in London.
Many of the ambassadors who took part in the research said London 2012 had made them feel “proud to be disabled”, and that they had been inspired by the exploits of the athletes.
The report has been backed by wheelchair-racer Hannah Cockroft, a double-gold medallist from the London games, who was given her first sports wheelchair by Whizz-Kidz six years ago, and who helped deliver Generation Inspired? to Downing Street, and spoke at its parliamentary launch.
Cockroft said she wanted to see more young people becoming involved in disability sport, but added: “I just want people to be more confident and to feel accepted in society, whatever they choose to do, even if it’s not sport.
“I just want to see [disabled] people living out their dreams and not being scared to do that.”
She said London 2012 already had a successful legacy because the Paralympics were now seen as a genuinely “parallel games” with the Olympics, and because of their impact on the confidence of disabled people to engage with society.
Cockroft said: “I have just seen so many more people being opened up to more experiences. You see more disabled people out there on the streets on their own, and they know they will be more accepted.”
Joel Connor-Saunders, a talented young wheelchair basketball player with the Norwich Lowriders, who also helped deliver the report to Downing Street, said he wanted to see more sporting opportunities opened up to young disabled people.
He said he had noticed many more people talking to him about wheelchair basketball since London 2012, and recognising it as a proper sport, rather than something disabled people just do because they can’t compete in mainstream sport.
27 February 2013
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com