Does He Take Sugar?

8492609238aef22ef31588754c1554fa euresponsive 1For the very first time I took a real interest in the Paralympic Games despite the fact that I have been involved with sport for the disabled for many years, albeit at the margins. I was staggered by the level of strength, skill and endurance that was put on display by the world's athletes who manged to place both their performance and indeed some the specialised sports into the realms of normality. Oscar Prestorius had started the whole new level of understanding and appreciation when he stepped onto the Olympic track and demonstrated that he is indeed an able-bodied athlete. What followed during the Paralympics was a wonderful exhibition of just how able are those that we previously considered dis-abled. However, these were the world's foremost exponents of sport in their field so how does that relate to how we view those ordinary mortals that we serve in the shop, meet at a social gathering or sit next to on the train or bus?

For it seems that the Games have gone a long way to desensitising all of us to the concept of disability. We could not avoid the missing limbs because there they were paraded , with pride, in front of us. We could not overlook the involuntary movement because there it was reminding us all that it is yet another of life's challenges to be successfully overcome and we could not overlook the hesitant conversation because there it was creating the intelligent and insightful view that deserved our patience. How many people, I wonder, felt increasingly comfortable in what they saw and heard during the course of those Paralympics? I suspect a very great many.

That for me was one of the huge dividends. An increasing willingness on the part of everybody to appreciate the latent potential in every human being whatever their circumstances provided they are given the opportunity to show it. This is not just a lesson for those involved in sport, but of course a lesson for us all. If this leads to more people asking the wheelchair occupant " Do you take sugar?" rather than through the carer then we will have made real progress. 

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