Disability charity’s survey finds lasting change for people with disabilities may be illusory without concerted effort to sustain legacy
As the Glasgow Commonwealth Games achieve new levels of inclusion for disabled athletes, with disabled and non-disabled events running completely parallel for the first time, national disability charity Vitalise is warning that concerted effort by all of society will be required to sustain the Games’ legacy in the long term.
At the mid-point of the Commonwealth Games, nearly two years on from the 2012 Paralympics and with the Invictus Games just round the corner, Vitalise is reiterating its call for more effort by wider society to be more inclusive to people with disabilities.
The charity is citing its survey, conducted on the first anniversary of the 2012 Paralympics, as proof of how fast a legacy can fade.
Contrary to hopes that the 2012 Paralympics would change attitudes and lead to greater inclusion of disabled people in society, the survey found that one year on, 7 out of 10 people with disabilities and carers (69%) thought that society did not have a better understanding of their day to day lives as result of the Paralympics, up from half (54%) immediately afterwards.
Over half (52%) of respondents believed there had been no perceptible change to their lives as a consequence of the Paralympics, up from 40% directly after the Games.
However, the survey also revealed an almost unanimous will to keep the Paralympic flame burning. Of all those surveyed – disabled and non-disabled people alike – an overwhelming 97% thought that more needed to be done to sustain the Paralympic legacy, while 9 out of 10 (86%) said it was very important for society to sustain and build on the legacy.
In the light of the findings, and as the Commonwealth Games brings the issue of inclusion to the fore once again, Vitalise is renewing its call for society as a whole to do more to reinvigorate and sustain the legacy of the Games by engaging with the day to day lives of people with disabilities and helping them play a much more significant role in society.
Vitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:
“The London 2012 Paralympics were a fantastic display of talent and determination from athletes whose dedication inspired millions of people around the world. For the first time, the focus shifted from the differences between disabled and non-disabled people and instead became a celebration of ability, achievement and shared aspirations, something that was fantastic to see.
“One of the most significant findings of our survey was an almost unanimous desire to keep the Paralympic flame burning, and the Commonwealth Games are the perfect opportunity to rekindle the spirit of inclusion created by the Paralympics and to ensure that the legacy of these Games continues to live on for years to come.
“People with disabilities want to see a change in people’s attitudes towards them, so they feel more included in society, and the good thing is that individuals can play just as significant a part in this as big organisations. There are a number of practical things one can do, such as volunteering for charities such as Vitalise, or around your local community, but even the simplest change in behaviour or attitude will help make a difference.
“Vitalise has been supporting people with disabilities and their carers for over 50 years now. We understand how working hard to sustain a vision can lead to great achievement. That’s why we are calling for people to come together and help us to achieve greater inclusion for people with disabilities in society.”