Tag Archives: changing attitudes

Let’s celebrate a summer of sport for all

There has been a definite buzz of excitement in the Scope office as London hosted the World Para Athletics Championships. Over a thousand athletes from over 85 countries competed and it was clear everyone was behind them. The event boasted the largest audiences in world Para sport championship history outside of the Paralympic Games.

Our athletes won a staggering 39 medals, placing Great Britain third in the medal table.  #TeamScope were cheering them on all the way. If you missed out on the buzz, check out what was happening during the event over on Twitter.

It’s not over yet

The event may have drawn to a close, but there’s still work to be done.

Last year, disabled people told us they felt attitudes towards them had begun to change after London 2012. 72% believed the games had helped to lift the negative attitudes they all too often experience. However, they also told us that over half of them regularly experienced discrimination.

A group of Scope staff standing outside the Olympic stadium in London
Some of Team Scope at the Olympic Stadium

#SportForAll

As part of our mission for everyday equality, we are going to be running a ‘Sport For All’ series to encourage better representation of disability in sport, as well as challenging attitudes towards disability.

You can expect new research, blogs, videos and social media events. These will showcase some of the best athletes and storytellers involved in disability sport today.

To get you started, read Sascha Kindred’s blog on how he thinks disability sport can help combat negative attitudes.

How you can get involved

Tell us what sport means to you

If you’re a disabled person, let us know what sport means to you. Just tweet us (@scope) with a photo, video or tweet using the hashtag #SportForAll.

Like, comment and share

There will be loads of exciting content coming your way so make sure you stay tuned, like, comment and share! Look out for video and blog content on our social media channels, our blog and in the ‘Everybody’ series on Huffington Post.

Make a difference

Support us fundraisers this year in accessible events such as The Superhero Triathlon and Parallel London. Find out more about our full list of challenge events.

It’s clear that sport has the power to bring us together and sporting events have the power to change people’s attitudes.

However, we all have the power to ensure that disability is celebrated and championed all year round, not just during events like the World Para Athletics Championships or the Paralympics.

Changing the attitudes of the next generation

Meet Mary, one of Scope’s disabled role models. Mary goes into schools to talk to kids about her experience of school, bullying and disability.

Thanks to supporters like you, we plan to reach more school children this year with Scope Role Models, tackling bullying and changing the attitudes of the next generation. 

Bullying hurts

If you were unlucky enough to be bullied as a child, you’ll know how miserable it can make you feel. When everyone is laughing at you, you feel completely alone, and the pain stays with you – sometimes for the rest of your life.

That’s how it was for me. I went to a school with over a thousand students and I stood out – all 4 foot 1 inches of me. There was no place to hide and it was exhausting – emotionally and physically – dealing with so many people who regularly wanted to make fun of you.

Yes, I was the butt of every joke. The bullies thought it was okay to laugh at Mary because they thought, ‘Mary’s not like us. Mary doesn’t have feelings’. But I did.

I went through so much pain, heartache and loneliness. I don’t think I would have had depression as an adult if I hadn’t been bullied as a child.  That’s why I can’t live with the fact that disabled children are twice as likely to be bullied as their non-disabled classmates.

I don’t want another child to experience the constant hurt that I went through

Thanks to supporters like you, we can change the attitudes of the next generation with Scope Role Models. We work with children in schools, because that’s where bullying happens, and that’s where kids form opinions that last for life.

I don’t mind telling you it was daunting the first time I stepped back into a school. The painful memories came flooding back, but the children made it worthwhile. It’s exciting to see their attitudes change in front of you. I’ve found that children are like sponges – they soak up the new ideas I share with them about disabled people, then go out and deliver that message to family and friends.

I just wish we could do more. And we need to do more, because bullying is still going on in schools around the country.

Scope is taking action thanks to your donations

As a Scope Role Model, I want children to understand the pain bullying causes. I want them to understand discrimination has its roots in ignorance. But I also want to share a positive message – and get them thinking about the friendships they miss out on with their disabled classmates.

I just wish there had been something like Scope Role Models when I was in school. It might have spared me a lot of pain, and even changed the course of my life. So I am determined to help get this life changing programme into every school.

Putting a stop to discrimination

Your support is helping disabled children who are dreading going to school because they can’t face another day of being picked on. And together we can change the future, because I’m sure, like me, you want disabled people to have equal opportunities in our society. But that won’t happen if disabled children are bullied in school, and if their non-disabled classmates follow the same path as previous generations. They’ll feel awkward around disabled people, they’ll avoid and exclude us – they’ll discriminate against us.

Thank you so much for your support, without you Scope wouldn’t be able to tackle bullying in such an effective way.

Our goal is to reach 2,500 young people through Scope Role Models this year – so if you can, please send an extra gift today to help change the attitudes of the next generation towards disabled people.

End the Awkward comes to an end: here are some highlights

With End the Awkward coming to an end for 2016. End the Awkward project manager, Neal Brown shares some of the top highlights.

Two thirds of people feeling awkward around disability, and some people feel so awkward that they’re avoiding disabled people altogether.

Considering 1 in 5 people are disabled, that’s a lot of time feeling pretty uncomfortable. We felt it was time to put a stop to it.

Over the last seven weeks we’ve been running our End the Awkward campaign, aiming to tackle the awkwardness that many people face around disability.

In this time our videos have been viewed more than 7.5 million times, and more than 71,000 people have visited our website looking for helpful tips.

Awkward moments

The reaction to the campaign has been fantastic. We’ve been inundated with people sharing their own awkward stories.

Jenny shared her experiences of awkward situations with her autistic child.

“As a parent of a little 4 year old who has autism and still learning to talk and has sensory issues yes people do react different and act awkward around my child… I’ve had people say there us something wrong with that boy. I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t take our kids on buses. [The] End the Awkward campaign is doing an amazing job in raising everyday issues that people with disabilities face.”

While Adrianne shared this:

“Some guy asked what I had done when I came to the till in my wheelchair. But the awkward moment was when he kept prying after I said: ‘Oh, I’m just disabled’, and implied I must be injured and not sick.”

This year’s campaign saw us break new ground, partnering with UNILAD to create exciting new content. Have you ever used a guide dog as a sat nav? While we knew this was based on the real experiences of Emily, a Scope supporter, it’s a lot more common that you might think.

Gavin told us:

“In the 18 years of being a guide dog mobility instructor I heard stories like this on an amazingly regular basis.”

Ending the Awkward around the world

We’ve also inspired people across the world to start talking about these issues. In this video, RebelWheels NYC shares her thoughts on dating disabled people.

While our campaign is coming to a close for 2016, we know that there remains a lot of awkward situations around.

Help us to keep spreading the word by sharing our content with your friends, family and colleagues.

I want a t-shirt that says “I’m allergic to exercise. No, really!”

Natasha Coates is an elite disability gymnast and Scope Role Model. When she was 18, she suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction and went into anaphalactic shock. Following this she was diagnosed with the rare condition Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

In this film and blog, Natasha talks to us about competing in disability sport and how the Paralympics is helping to change attitudes towards disability.

I think the Paralympics in 2012 really helped attitudes towards disability. Joe Bloggs down the street might not have had any exposure to disabled people so it made people aware and seeing it on TV and having the athletes interviewed inspired a whole generation of disabled people. It’s definitely helped.

It showed people that being a disabled person doesn’t mean you can’t do sport. Exercise is for everyone, no matter what your age or ability. You can give it a go. You can always adapt things. The Paralympics showed us that.

I’d love gymnastics to be in the Paralympics and to say I was going to Rio but unfortunately it’s unlikely to happen in my career. There’s just not enough of us and there’s not enough international squads. You have to be able to do World Championships first before you can put in a bid for the Paralympics. Hopefully it will get there. I’d love to see it in my lifetime.

I want to pave the way for the next generation. If in 50 years time, gymnasts get the chance to do something I wasn’t able to, that would be amazing.

We’ve published the findings of a new poll which asked disabled people whether the Paralympics can change attitudes to disability and asked what life is like if you’re disabled in 2016. Read more about these findings.

British Gymnastics ensure that gymnastics is a totally inclusive sport and can adapt mainstream gymnastics sessions for disabled people. You can find your local club on the British Gymnastics website.

Jordanne Whiley: going for double-gold at the Paralympics

Jordanne Whiley is a Paralympian, eight time Grand Slam champion and Britain’s most decorated female tennis player of all time. She was born with osteogenesis, more commonly know as brittle bone disease.

In this blog she talks about her hopes for Rio and why she wants to show young people that no matter what your background, or how you look, you can achieve anything.

My love for tennis started when I was three

I had my first leg break when I was three months-old and I had my last one at 12 years-old. In between that I had about 26 breaks. When I was three, my dad took me out to Israel because he was competing in a tennis tournament. I was in a wheelchair with my legs in plaster at the time. I didn’t think I’d be able to play but my dad’s friend gave me a racket and ball and I just started hitting it. Then it was all over Israeli news! I got a trophy from the tournament too. It all just kicked off after that.

I became professional around the time I was 16. Before that, I was part of the Tennis Foundation performance programme and I’d won national championships but not at a professional level. I was at school and I wasn’t sure if I was going to carry on with tennis or go into further academic studies. Then I qualified for the Beijing Paralympics on my sixteenth birthday, which was a nice surprise! So I went to Beijing and when I came back I quit academic studies and became a professional tennis player.

People care about the Paralympics a lot more now

In Beijing tickets weren’t sold and people were told to come and watch the Paralympics and told when to clap. Four years later, in London, there was an arena with 17,000 people who turned up to watch my bronze medal match. In just four years, that’s pretty incredible! I’m hoping that Rio will do just as well.

The sport has changed massively too. I’d say that wheelchair tennis is up there as one of the most successful Paralympic sports. The top ten men and women in the world are just a ridiculous standard. It’s actually world class tennis not just “disabled people playing tennis”. Some wheelchair tennis players have got fantastic profiles for themselves.  My own profile has shot up since London 2012.

Jordanne on the court, about to hit the ball

I want to be a role model for young people

When I was growing up, I didn’t really have any role models to look up to. I don’t like looking up to celebrities because I don’t know them. If I looked up to anyone, I’d want them to be a real person. I had my dad for a lot of it. He was my coach until I was 12 and both my parents were very supportive of my career. But it was just me and them for a very long time.

I want to be a real role model to people. I don’t own Bentleys and live in an 80 room mansion – I’m just a real person. I’m very successful in what I do but I’ve been through struggles. Paralympians have a good opportunity to become those kinds of role models. And I do look up to other Paralympians myself.

The bigger my profile gets, the more chance that people will listen to me. So when I’m trying to influence young girls to stop worrying about their body and get on with their lives, I’m more likely to have more impact. That’s what really drives me. I’m not interested in becoming famous, I just want to influence young people.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what background you’re from, what shape and size you are, you can still be successful. You don’t have to look a certain way to fit into society.  And if people think badly of you, you don’t need them in your life.  I know the people around me will always support me and accept me for who I am.

The Paralympics can change attitudes towards disability

The Paralympics definitely have the ability to change attitudes towards disability. You do have the group of people who think the Paralympics is just a load of disabled people playing sports, “Aww, let’s give them a chance!” but then there are other people who have seen it who are like “Actually, these people are world class athletes. Their disability doesn’t mean anything.” People making judgements should just watch some of it. They will be amazed at what they see.

It’s difficult because a lot of people don’t know what wheelchair tennis is. It’s really sad because it’s such a brilliant sport.  As well as that, you have fun, the social life is great and you meet so many different people. It really helps you become comfortable with your impairment as you meet loads of different disabled people. It can really help you accept yourself.

My hopes for Rio

Training is going really well. I’m definitely in a good position for Rio. A lot of people, including myself, know that I can go for double gold. I don’t want to let anyone down. I know I’ve got it in me to win two golds which is exciting. I just need to go out and play my best. I’ve trained for this for four years!

Visit the ParalympicsGB website to find out more.

Jordanne was one of our #30toWatch in our 30 Under 30 campaign. Find out more about Jordanne’s life and career

Photo credits: Header image courtesy of RKGsecond image courtesy of The Tennis Foundation.

Why I’m trying every Paralympic and Olympic sport

This year, to raise funds for his charity Power2Inspire, John Willis embarked on the Road2Rio challenge. John was born without hands and without feet, but he hasn’t let that stop him from trying out every Olympic and Paralympic sport in the run up to Rio. We caught up with him in Cambridge as he tested out some newly designed paddles for his kayaking challenge, and this is what he said:

I was born without hands and without feet. The good news is that I’ve never suffered any pain or anything like that. But the difficult part is that the world is set up for people with hands and with feet. But, with some ingenuity, some design – my car is adapted – that sort of thing, I can actually do most things.

John, a disabled man with foreshortened arms holds an adapted tennis racket and smiles.
John demonstrating his new Tennis racket.

When I was growing up it was a much less enlightened period back in the 1960s. I was not able to participate in sport with my contemporaries, my peers. I was put in the corner. Just “there, there John – you go over there and don’t join in.” Now people are prepared to allow me to join in. So I wanted to stop that happening today and encourage everybody to be included. And surprise, surprise, wherever we’ve taken it, people have loved the idea!

Inclusive sport

Power2Inspire is a charity that helps disabled and non-disabled people do sport together. We’re passionate about doing sport – everybody doing sport. So it’s not just about disability and non-disability. It’s about everybody doing sport.

John, a disabled man with forshortened arms and legs poses for the camera on a horse.
John ready for his horseriding challenge.

The biggest challenge to inclusive sport is mental attitude. It’s thinking that people can’t be involved. It’s not thinking outside of the box; not adapting sports; not making games accessible. We use inclusive and adaptive sports in schools to show that that isn’t the case.

So this year, to raise funds for Power2Inspire, I’ve embarked on the Road2Rio challenge, which is to do all the Olympic and Paralympic sports before the end of Rio 2016. We calculated that at 34 sports, and so far I’ve done about 27 of them, which leaves me just 7 to go. They’re very varied. Some are exciting. Some are scary. And some are technologically challenging.

The scariest challenge so far has to be between diving off a three metre high spring board and riding up on a 14 hand horse, without hands and feet.

John Willis, a disabled man with foreshortened arms and legs, waits on a diving board for the signal to dive into the pool, in front of an audience of adults and children.
John waiting on a diving board for the signal to dive into the pool.

Diving really taught me that it’s not only just about one’s physical limitations, I was actually mentally scared. And that had nothing to do with my disability. And that was really, really interesting.

The Paralympics

The Paralympics is inspiring. It’s exciting. I think the wheelchair basketball is way more exciting that ordinary basketball because it’s a real effort to score a basket. Wheelchair rugby is completely and utterly mad. And the track wheelchair racing is so strategic and skillful, it has to be watched.

The London Paralympics made a huge difference to the whole attitude to disability. In particular it showed people could do things rather than that they couldn’t. It showed people are superhumans. Absolutely amazing! But we’ve still got to go much further at the grassroots level. That’s what I believe. We’ve got to get a lot more disabled people who can do limited amounts, to actually realise that they too can join in with the fun of sport.

In terms of my favourite Paralympic sport to watch, I think I’m torn between the wheelchair rugby and some of the swimming events. I love the relay swimming where you have different abilities swimming against each other. So actually, they have to swim against themselves, as much as they have to swim against each other. The relay is superb.

John, a disabled man with foreshortened arms and legs, raises his newly adapted paddle on the River Cam.
A delighted John raises his newly adapted paddle, after successfully Kayaking on the River Cam.

I think peoples’ attitudes are different between the Olympics and Paralympics. People can relate, I suppose a bit more to the Olympians in the first instance, until they realise quite how far they’re throwing, jumping, or whatever. Then they can be inspired by the Paralympians, and see that actually it is worth getting out of bed in the morning.

Can’t wait for the Paralympics to start? Read all our Paralympic blogs.

Calum is using magic to challenge attitudes

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Calum Morris is a 21-year-old magician from Sheffield. He has spent years honing his skills and has set up his own business.

As part of 30 Under 30, he talks about the opportunities his career has given him and how useful magic can be in changing attitudes.

I’ve been interested in magic since being a kid, but it wasn’t until I saw Dynamo walking across the river Thames that I decided I wanted to do it professionally. I was impressed at how he’d taken it to the next level and that night I got my old pack of cards out and started practicing again.

Four years ago I set up my own business. I came up with my stage name, Magi-Cal, and used it as a personal brand. I like to entertain people, cheering them up and putting a smile on their faces, magic gives me the chance to do that everyday. I now perform at birthday parties, corporate events and weddings. I do a mix of stage shows, micromagic and impromptu street performances.

This job has also given me the opportunities to meet world famous magicians. I get on really well with Dynamo, last year he invited me to go backstage at one of his shows, he’s a really nice, likeable guy. It was great to meet Derren Brown and David Blaine as I’m a big fan of them both.

Calum, a young disabled man, holds up a deck of cards and poses for a photograph with famous magician, Dynamo

Breaking down barriers

I like to think I’m challenging misconceptions of disability through my work. I’ve always been told what I can and can’t do. At a young age my parents were told that I would never be able to speak, but they never gave up on me. These negative attitudes have only propelled me to overcome the barriers I face. I like to disprove people and always strive to be the best I can possibly be.

People often don’t know how to act around disabled people, they feel awkward and think they have to speak differently to us or talk down to us. Magic is a great way to interact with people and challenge these attitudes. Over my career I’ve definitely seen things start to change and I want to continue to do this.Calum, a young disabled man, performs a card trick in front of a group of people

My disabilities can make learning some tricks more difficult. Being dyspraxic means I’m a bit clumsy, my hand movements are not as fast as people without the condition. This has meant I’ve had to work very hard to master card manipulation and sleight of hand. I always have a deck of cards on me and take every opportunity I can to perform, constantly practicing has helped me really hone my skills.

Most people learn tricks through books but this has never been easy for me because I’m dyslexic. Reading can be a struggle, but I make the most of what I’ve got and think of creative ways to overcome the challenges I face.

As much as my disabilities have been hindering, they’ve also helped me in the industry. I’m able to be much more imaginative with my magic because I’m able to see opportunities for tricks that others can’t. I’ve come up with some really weird pieces that others may not have thought of. I’ve managed to get into Sheffield’s Magic Circle, which wasn’t easy but has really helped me to progress and grow.

I really want people to see past my disabilities. I don’t want people to book me because they feel sorry for me, but because I’m a likeable person and a good magician.

What the future holds for Magi-Cal

This summer I’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ve been going every year since I was born and in August I’ll be doing street performances on The Royal Mile. This was always my favourite place to go as a kid, and I’m excited that I’ll be there as an entertainer this year!

Magic is one of the few things that helps people forget about the troubles of day to day life, that’s my favourite thing about it. It’s all about the good feeling it gives people. And if I can make people’s day that little bit better, if I can bring a bit of happiness into the world, I think I’ve done my job well.

Calum is sharing his story as part of 30 Under 30. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing something extraordinary. Visit our website to read more of the stories from the campaign.

 

“The best way to challenge people’s attitudes by is getting out and doing things” – Gary Clarke

Britain’s Disabled Strongman competition returns this year and promises to be bigger and better than its successful launch in 2015. In this guest blog, organiser and strongman competitor Gary Clarke, who has cerebral palsy and is a support worker, talks about changing attitudes through action.

It’s a great year for disability sport. We’ve had the Invictus Games and the Rio Paralympics are later this summer. In the middle is Britain’s Disabled Strongman competition this Saturday (28 May).

In 2015, I fulfilled a long-time ambition of mine to set up a disabled strongman competition in the UK.  I’ve wanted to organise an event like this since taking part in my first competition back in 2011.

It’s a killer event that culminates with the atlas stone – lifting weights of up to 90kg between oil drums – which is a huge demonstration of strength and courage. I love that it all came from my determination to bring the games to the UK. That makes me very proud.

Disabled strongman preparing to lift the atlas stone
Competitor preparing to lift Atlas stone

Spirit of the Paralympics

I always look forward to watching the Paralympics. The strongman competition is very fresh and raw right now, but I think it’s on par with the Paralympics. The determination these guys have and the willpower to win – it’s the same spirit as the Paralympians. They’re doing it for the sheer enjoyment and thrill of winning.

Setting up the strongman competition is the best thing I’ve ever done to change attitudes and get people to think positively about disability.

People are going to take a step back and think wow; this guy is pulling a four tonne truck and lifting an atlas stone. How many people would think disabled people would be capable of doing that? The best way to challenge people attitudes is by getting out and doing things.

There are no limits, no excuses

I think some disabled people end up believing they can’t do things because that’s what they’ve been told. This competition proves that disabled people can do these very physical challenges and that events can be adapted.

The more people who tell me I can’t do something, the more determined I am to do it. Bringing disabled strongman to the UK was one of those things and I feel really privileged to have done it.

My inspiration is Arnar Már Jónsson, who started the disabled strongman movement in Iceland, where it has been running for 15 years. He was a pioneer and has made all subsequent events possible.

For this year’s competition on Saturday, we have double the number of competitors with 21 disabled athletes taking part in six events, and we’re expecting hundreds of spectators.  Last year we only had a seated class to include wheelchair users. We’ve added a standing class so that people with different impairments can compete on a more level playing field. We’re also lucky to be holding the event at the Strongman Sanctuary in Kent, where the whole team has been hugely supportive.

  • Britain’s Disabled Strongman competition is taking place at the Strongman Sanctuary in Kent on Saturday (23 May) from 10.30. Visit the event Facebook page for more information.