Wednesday 5 September 2012

A question or disability or ability?

Our super-humans, Team GB, portraying disability in the inspirational light it can be...

But is it a good thing or a bad thing?

There are 2 arguments, does it create an 'us and them' scenario, or does is show the resilience that disability creates in people and inspire disabled people themselves to be the best they could ever be...
Does it inspire a disabled generation too?

To look at me, you would think I am an able-bodied person with no disabilities. But I'm not. You might think I was just normal, but then I would ask, what is normal?

I don't know anyone who is normal, I think we've all got some form of disability, no matter how mild it might be. The medical conditions that create disability aren't finite, they have a range, varying severities. You could make an argument to say Usain Bolt himself is disabled when it comes to long distance running, even the USA Basketball team are all likely to be classed as having the disability, "giantism".

So in a way, the media could portray to everyone an us and them scenario, but then, they wouldn't be portraying disability.

There's a reason I have waited to post about this, till the Olympics were finished and the Paralympics started. It's to make this point: Paralympians are no less ordinary than Olympians and in the same vein, what people may have failed to notice is that Olympians may be, or will likely be disabled under certain circumstances just as much as Paralympians could be.

There are obvious examples, Dai Greene, Joanna Rowsell and Jo Hopkins all have medical conditions and therefore would be classed as disabled, but they are all able bodied.
The more discrete examples could be of extreme strength causing delicate skill issues, extreme speed causing endurance problems or the other way around. Many athletes could have dyslexia or even mental health issues, but would you consider them just as disabled as Paralympians?

The answer, so it's fits into an easy box to sell, is we probably would consider obvious disability to be different. The reality is that we shouldn't, neither should we look to Paralympians as the model for disabled people to be. We don't expect that of able bodied people in relation to Olympians.

What we should do however is consider this, every person has a right to access sport, or any other pursuit they wish. Paralympians are physically no more or less extra-ordinary than Olympians, in the same way that people with disabilities are no more or less physically extra-ordinary than people without disability. We just use a different scale to measure each individual by and it's as huge as the scale by which every individual will be disabled in some way, in a particular scenario.

What we have to take away from the Olympics and Paralympics is this. If ever we needed inspiration be it a young girl from Sheffield, watching Jess Ennis win the Olympic heptathlon, or be it a young boy who is a arm amputee watching Jon Allan Butterworth pick up 2 Silver medals in the Velodrome, we can all relate to someone. Even if it because of a fellow countryman we all have someone we can relate to and inspire us to be the best we can be. It maybe not in sport, but just in life.

The one thing sport and indeed disability teaches us is how to overcome, be it an injury, life threatening or otherwise, disability or not, we can all take inspiration from the resilience it took our hero or heroine, to achieve the incredible feat they have by competing in the Olympics and Paralympics.
They might have a recognised disability, they might not, but it doesn't mean they aren't able to be one of, if not the, best in the world at what they do.

We all have something were good at, it might be our job, our hobby, a special skill...
- so why don't we aspire to be the best in the world?

The answer to the question:

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