It is because my cerebral palsy is so mild that I have never considered myself disabled, but having cerebral palsy and watching the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, brought about strong feelings in me I didn’t know I had.
Watching it for the first time, I felt as though I belonged. The Paralympics is putting disabilities on the map. Each disabled athlete has proved to the world that disability isn’t something to be embarrassed about, or hidden from. It’s not something to be frowned upon or ignored, but something the world needs to embrace.
Each athlete has not only proved to themselves of their abilities, but has proved to the world that disabled people are no different to able-bodied people. Any competing athlete needs to be prepared so they have a chance of success at their chosen sport, but an athlete with a disability has so much more to overcome, just to be able to compete at competition level.
Emotionally, mentally and physically disabled people when competing, may often have to work through their own emotional disabled barriers, to give themselves the chance of competing on the same level as non-disabled athletes and that can’t be easy. For the first time, the Paralympics has now given people with disabilities a platform.
It is a shame it takes this event for people to look at and see disability differently. It’s a stark contrast to what disability was like when I was growing up. It is always great to see athletes who aren’t defined by their disabilities. Those like myself who have a disability, have given ourselves and other disabled people a voice.