Because my Cerebral Palsy is so mild I have never considered myself disabled; but having Cerebral Palsy and watching the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, brought out such strong feelings in me, I didn’t know I had.
I not only resonated with them, but for the first time felt as though I belonged; having struggled to fit into my own life for so many years. I believe the Paralympics will now put people with 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. I believe any competing athlete has to be prepared so that 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 and physically they must 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’s a shame it has taken this kind of 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 was largely ignored in the 1960’s. It’s always great to see athletes who aren’t defined by their disabilities. The Paralympians have given themselves and other disabled people a voice.
Very much long overdue, but at least they now have one. People will have no choice but to stand up and listen. Quite inspirational.