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Paralympics offer potential to bring lasting change

Paralympics offer potential to bring lasting change
5th July 2021 Ian Streets

The disability equality charity Scope has joined forces with ParalympicsGB to challenge the nation to turn cheers into change this summer.
The charity says the opportunity for the Paralympics to shine a spotlight on disability sport and the lives of disabled people like no other event is needed now more than ever.
Scope highlighted its own research and fond that throughout the pandemic, time and time again disabled people have felt forgotten. Many have told the charity they felt their lives don’t matter to the rest of society, and that they’ve been written off as expendable.
In total, Scope surveyed 1004 disabled people. Their research found:
• 69 per cent of disabled people think the Paralympics help tackle negative attitudes towards disabled people. 
• 73 per cent of disabled people think the Paralympics help improve the public’s understanding of disabled people, rising to 82 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds 
• 69 per cent of disabled people want Paralympics fans to do more to understand the issues disabled people face 
• 3 in 4 (74 per cent) of disabled people believe public’s perceptions of disabled people have either worsened or not shifted during pandemic  
The charity reported that many of the barriers which disabled people faced before the pandemic have been made worse over the past year.
It said more and more reports have bene received about disabled people being shut out of their communities because of issues around pavements being blocked by al fresco dining tables, and Blue Badge bays closed off.
Scope said the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which will run from 25 August until 6 September, has the potential to drive lasting change.
The charity said: “As we move out of lockdown, we are facing a watershed moment. We must not miss the opportunity to create a more equal and fair society and that’s what makes this the most important Paralympics ever for disability equality.
“For two weeks this summer, there’ll be more disabled people on our screens than at any other time of the year. There’ll be more column inches devoted to disabled people and their achievements.
“But two weeks every few years is not enough, and the 14 million disabled people in the UK will continue to face barriers in society and negative attitudes.
“We know you can’t change attitudes in a fortnight, but we hope this year’s Games will be a catalyst for moving towards an equal society.”

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