The London 2012 Paralympic Games is already changing lives

December 3, 2009

dametanni– Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson is Britain’s most successful Paralympic athlete, with a total of 16 medals, including 11 golds. She is part of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Vice-Chair of the Sports Advisory Group. The opinions expressed are her own. –

One of the best parts of being involved in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is that I get to see for myself how hosting the London Games is already changing people’s lives across the world.

In the weeks before today’s 1,000 days to go milestone I was in Jordan for the launch of International Inspiration. I had been asked to come and see what the London 2012 Games are doing for children there.

International Inspiration aims to changes the lives of millions of children throughout the world by giving them better PE lessons and sport and play opportunities. It’s absolutely core to LOCOG’s (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) commitment to use the London Games in a transformative way.

But it’s not just kids and young people around the world who are already getting involved and benefitting from London hosting the Games.

Millions of people here in the UK are already inspired by and involved, through the many sports participation programmes going on, by playing the National Lottery and by helping build the Olympic Park.

Once finished the Olympic Park will welcome people of all cultures, faiths and ages and be accessible to disabled people.

Not only will the Olympic Park be open to all, it will also be easily accessed by all. LOCOG will run a Games Mobility service for disabled spectators at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For the first time ever disabled volunteers will be able to become drivers at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games after LOCOG’s decision to ensure its automotive provider, BMW, would deliver adaptive vehicles as part of the contract.

Work is also underway to create innovative seating bowls at venues, enabling disabled spectators to sit with family and friends rather than in designated wheelchair areas.

Every one of these initiatives, and the many more being worked on, break new ground in terms of the way we see, and respond, to disability in this country.

In Jordan, children in wheelchairs are now taking part in PE activities alongside their non-disabled friends. This simple change is making a hugely positive difference to their lives.

The effect of the London 2012 Games on the UK’s communities won’t be any less powerful.

The next 1,000 days will be a time to get behind the Paralympic Games, as a spectator, volunteer or supporter. By playing our part we can all enjoy the many benefits that will, and are, coming.

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There is little indication that Olympics and other sporting events like it do increase public participation in sport. This requires investment in local sports facilities. In the case of London 2012 the Olympics has meant money has been taken away from community and children’s sports and given to this elite sporting event. All the indications from surveys to date are that, contrary to the assertions of Games promoters participation in sport in East London, where the Olympics are being held, has actually declined.

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