*Walks in dragging soapbox behind.*
You may wish to go elsewhere but I am going to sound a bit miserable.
Aren’t the Paralympics amazing? It is so good to see that, after all the dire warnings about the whole thing collapsing in a heap of indifference and lack of finances, everything is going very well indeed.
Looking at the athletes, I am so impressed by them and everything that they have achieved and it is heartening how far we have come in our acceptance of the disabled into our society. The thing is, however, that these athletes are very easy to admire. The setbacks they have overcome, the dreams that have come true for them, they are marvellous. They are also very unusual – a tiny, tiny proportion of the disabled in this country. So what if you are disabled but without the charms of Ellie Simmonds or the hotness rating of Jonnie Peacock?
Last week a lady who works for us had a genius idea to increase our profile in the city. She organised a Sponsored Scoot – arranging for a group of mobility scooter users to “conga” through the city. The newspaper covered the event and all went well, except when we read the comments section below the picture above, when it appeared on the paper’s website. Many of the comments were unedifying, with reference to scooters getting in the way and the obesity of the riders. You don’t have to be Doctor Bob to know that there are many causes of obesity – not everyone who is overweight is eating for England. For example, one of our clients has severe Spina Bifida. Her movements are laboured and exercise is impossible. Another has a drug regime which leads to weight gain. Everything is not always as it seems at first glance.
So before we all pat ourselves on the back because of how far we have come with our acceptance of the disabled, the truth is that we still have a long way to go. Not all disabled people qualify under our definition of “Special” where we look at these fantastic athletes and are amazed by what they achieve. When we make equal amounts of room in society for those who deal with pain every morning and those for whom a trip to town takes gargantuan amounts of planning and guts – then, I think, we can talking a bit more about having sorted out this equality stuff..