Para Athletes run round the track in the Olympic stadium

Can a sporting event change attitudes?

Following our #SportForAll activity this summer and as we head towards the fifth anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We’ve discovered that, despite the success of the games themselves, there has been little change in the way disabled people feel they are treated by society and supported by the government.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games ran between 29 August and 9 September. At the time it was Lord Coe’s view that “we would never think of disability in the same way again.”

The Games themselves saw disability given an unprecedented platform, with Paralympics GB taking home 120 medals, and para-athletes like Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds becoming household names.

However, our new research reveals that a quarter (28%) of disabled people did not feel the Paralympics delivered a positive legacy for disabled people once the two weeks were over. Over a third (38%) think that attitudes have not improved or have got worse since 2012.

An unrealistic portrayal

People have told us that, although the games themselves were wonderful, all of the Paralympic athletes were unrealistically portrayed as ‘superheroes’. They suddenly became these people who could overcome and achieve anything. This just isn’t what daily life is like.

There are 13 million disabled people in the UK, but progress towards everyday equality has been slow. Disabled people tell us that they find it hard to access the care and support they need and the extra costs they face mean life can also be very expensive.

The expectations for a sporting event to change the world when it came to disability was an unrealistic ask.

Time to change attitudes

Our findings also show that three-quarters of disabled people have seen no change in the way that members of the public talk to them or the language that is used, which is really unsettling.

At Scope, we believe that attitudes need to be changed in order to achieve our vision of Everyday equality. This will all work towards the much-needed action on employment, financial security and social care support for disabled people.

Sport has the power to bring people together and break down barriers. However, we need to ensure that this change in attitudes continues indefinitely, not just once every four years.

Paralympic legend Richard Whitehead MBE will be joining us for a Facebook Live on 25 August at 2pm. Head to our Facebook channel and join the conversation.

Richard Whitehead smiles and holds up a Union Jack flag

Our mission is to drive social change so that disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Read our new strategy.

Read all of our #SportForAll blogs

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