Woah… A week’s blogging break, L? I mean, I know my breaks can be sporadic and unplanned, but a week is long by my own standards, and for that I apologise. However, you may rest easy once more in your beds, for L has returned.
… Yay …
I feel quite passionately about certain aspects of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic games, the latter of which is being displayed on my TV as I write this very post. The Olympic & Paralympic games provide countless opportunities for millions of people worldwide: athletes can compete at their sports; people across the globe can be inspired to take up a sport; the people of Rio get an economic boost from tourism and the legacy of the games; the TV commentators get a holiday. See, everyone’s happy… Apart from me.
And I doubt i’m the only one, to be honest.
The Paralympic games were introduced to promote the inclusion of disabled athletes not only in the Olympic games, but in sport generally. Through the publicity that the Paralympics can bring disability sports, hundreds of thousands of children, young people and adults alike, all similar in that they have a disability, have got involved in so many different, and unique sports, some of whom have progressed to Paralympic standard and have competed – or are competing – at the games. As well as this, the Paralympic games have broken down some stigmas surrounding disability, surprisingly not just for non-disabled people, but for the disabled also. Proving that having a disability doesn’t make you unable has opened non-disabled people’s eyes to the possibilities open to everybody, regardless of age, strength or ability at first glance. However, they have also served as a tool to reach out to disabled people at home and show them what is possible, and have in many cases successfully inspired those people to live their lives without the label, without allowing their impairment to drag them down.
As a disabled person myself (for those who were unaware, I’m completely blind), I can tell just one story of how sports can transform lives. Getting involved in a team disability sport has, of course, kept me fit and healthy, but also grown my confidence, and opened up my own eyes (PUN, PEOPLE, PUN!) to some of the opportunities available to me, which I first thought were closed doors. Disabled sport is so important to so many, including myself, and for good reasons too.
Why, then, was this done?
Whether you’re aware of it or not, Rio 2016 hasn’t been a financial walk in the park; money has been short, although it was covered up very nicely. Despite this, money from the Paralympicsfund was taken and spent on the Olympic games. This resulted in last-minute travel grants for countries attending the games, leaving these countries unsure for weeks if they were able to attend the games or not.
I’m sorry, but if there is ONE specific action that is a slight bit more ableist than this, I’d be shocked. This isn’t even a discreet way of openly displaying the fact that the Rio 2016 organisers believe that able-bodied people are more important and more significant than disabled athletes.
I mean, after all, we’re disabled – we don’t matter as much, because there’s something WRONG with us.
How ridiculously disgusting! This makes my blood absolutely boil in my veins, and genuinely makes me want to punch something. These athletes at the Paralympics are just as valid, just as important and just as inspirational as the athletes at the Olympics – they are equals, no doubt about it. Like Olympic athletes, they’re people, with feelings, and hopes, and dreams, and potential. How do you think this makes them feel? Because I know full well how it’d make me feel: worthless.
Well and truly worthless.
Because I’m not as valid.
I’m not as included in society.
I’m not accepted.
The message that this sends out, too. Well done, Rio 2016: you’ve single-handedly ripped apart every hope, every dream, every ounce of belief that disabled people are finally seen as equal members of society in one fatal swoop. Congratulations for that. There are disabled people at home reading this story on the news, and if they reacted in a similar way to how I did, they felt their heart being torn apart, because they’ve just been called unequal. Everything that tireless campaigners up and down the UK, across Europe, around the globe are fighting for is suddenly shattered, melted away like it was never even there.
To any disabled person out there reading this: you are equal. You are just as important; you are just as significant; you are just as good as an able-bodied person, and you should never forget that. Challenges are a part of our lives, but we can overcome them, and that is why you’re just as brilliant.
I’ve said this before on just one other post, but I@d like to say it again here.
This message is so, SO close to my heart, and is so important and relevant. Please, if you can, do consider sharing on social media, on on your own blogs, or maybe just with a friend or family member; this message needs to be heard.