ParalympicsGB has launched a new campaign to make disabled people Impossible to Ignore to mark one year to go to the start of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The initiative has been developed after recent research showed Paralympic athletes are key to challenging perceptions of disability in the UK.
With a year to go to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, preparations are ramping up to take the best prepared team to make the nation proud once again by recreating the incredible success of Rio 2016 where the team won 147 medals.
While many qualification events are still to take place, an estimated 250 athletes are tipped to compete for ParalympicsGB in Tokyo including competitors in the new sports of Taekwondo and Badminton.
Research from ComRes* suggests that the success of these athletes may have a direct impact on breaking down barriers, shifting perceptions and increasing opportunities for all disabled people.
• 84% of UK adults say the achievements of ParalympicsGB athletes have a positive impact on society overall
• 74% of UK adults perceive ParalympicsGB to be an inspirational sports team – more than any of the other teams listed
• 82% of disabled UK adults believe the Paralympic Games provides positive media coverage of disabled people
Nick Webborn, Chair of the British Paralympic Association, said: “This research is the strongest proof yet of the direct link between the success of our talented Paralympic athletes and its wider social benefit. We believe that the success our Paralympic stars achieve on the field of play can be turned into meaningful, long-term action – turning the nation’s cheers into change and those medals into a movement.
“With the great British public’s support, we can help to ensure disabled people are represented throughout society and, like our Paralympic heroes, become Impossible to Ignore.”
The research follows a poll carried out last year by Scope, the disability and equality charity, which revealed that nearly half of disabled people felt excluded from society.
Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive at Scope, said: ““We know the huge power the Paralympic Games has to shift attitudes and change perceptions towards disability. But life is still too tough for disabled people. There are 13.9 million disabled people in Britain and the disability employment gap has been stuck at about thirty percentage points behind for more than a decade. The challenge now is for charities like Scope to work with the British Paralympic Association to maintain this momentum and progress between Games so that all disabled people have everyday equality.”
The ParalympicsGB team at next year’s Games in the Japanese capital can play a pivotal role in helping to challenge those attitudes.
Helene Raynsford, Chair of the Athletes’ Commission at the BPA and a gold medallist at Beijing 2008, said: “This research highlights just how important our athletes are when it comes to changing perceptions towards disability around the UK.”
“While I am delighted to know that the efforts and exploits of British Para athletes has such a positive impact on those around us, I am also aware that there is still work to be done to improve the lives of disabled people across the country. I believe ParalympicsGB can be key to that drive for change.”
In an age where opinions can often be divided, ParalympicsGB also creates one of the highest levels of positive sentiment in conversations about sport on social media, according to analysis from Nielsen Sports.