As I’ve started to write this, I’m watching the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics.
I had a few issues getting the stream working, but boy, was I glad when my husband texted me a possible solution that I managed to get working.
You see, I love the Paralympics!
The Paralympics go back to the post World War II period. Similar to the modern Invictus Games, competitions were set up to help ex servicemen who had been injured. Eventually, it evolved into the Summer Paralympics (open to non-veterans), and the Winter games opened in 1976.
It gives a chance for disabled people to compete at a world class level, and in an environment that is supportive and accessible.
Disability sport is important because it keeps us active, healthy (physically and mentally), and keeps us social. Ensuring that sport is competitive at an equal level as abled people by providing disabled people our own Olympics, is a great step forward for equality for disabled people.
The Paralympics and its athletes are often called “inspiring.” And it’s true they are!
The athletes, just like Olympians, are amazing. They are strong competitors, show fantastic fitness, and display great skills. They have overcome some tough stuff too. We should respect them for that, and definitely admire them and what they can do.
As a disabled person, I know that I for sure look up to many of the parathletes as role models, but I am always aware of the dangers of disabled people being used as “Inspirational Porn.”
Inspirational Porn is when people sees a disabled person only for their disability and gets inspired by them because they fail to see them as a whole person. They are only seen as inspirational because they are disabled.
Being disabled can make life more challenging, yes, but please remember when watching these Paralympics that these athletes are amazing for many reasons. Not just because they are disabled.
Another reason why I love the Paralympics, is the awareness that it brings. You hear and learn so much about many different athletes and their conditions.
There are also a lot of parathletes that look abled. They don’t use any mobility devices, they have all their limbs, and otherwise look like anyone who doesn’t have a disability. Despite their looks, they clearly have a recognised disability.
I think it’s great because so many people don’t understand that many disabilities are invisible. Having those disabilities validated on a world stage is amazing.
On a personal level, when watching the Paralympics several years ago, I had the realisation that I was disabled.
The coverage was describing one of the athletes, and I realised that I had similar issues. That hit home.
I’ve since become more ill, and therefore have even more disabling symptoms. Being able to accept that I am disabled is empowering. I might have these issues, but I am part of a strong community that is capable of brilliant things. We adapt and know that being different is not a bad thing.
So, watching the Paralympics is important to me not only because I love watching the Olympics, but because I think it’s important to support my fellow disabled community.
I’d encourage you to watch the Paralympics too!
Finding coverage of the Paralympics is unfortunately more difficult than the Olympics, but it’s worth it to support some amazing athletes.