With less than 100 days to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, we invited our wonderful guest blogger Shirley to share her thoughts on inclusive sports and its ability to continue changing perceptions of disability right across the world. Here’s what she had to say.
I was glued to the Invictus Games last month. One thing that struck me was the strong presence of Royalty – particularly Prince Harry – in helping to change perceptions of both mental and physical disability through the medium of sport. As many of you will know, The Invictus Games is the brainchild of Prince Harry, who wanted to encourage injured servicemen and women who have fought for their country to use the power of sport as a means of rehabilitation and recovery.
And, it’s not just Prince Harry who is heading up such campaigns – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also highlighted their involvement with the ‘Heads Together’ initiative that aims to raise awareness of mental health, while helping to tackle any stigmatisation surrounding mental health conditions. I must say that I do admire the work of these young Royals in helping to change the way that both mental and physical disability are viewed by wider society.
Those of you who have read my previous blogs will know that I have a real passion for music and so you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that Prince Harry had asked Gareth Malone to create an Invictus Choir that would perform on the opening night in Orlando. I found it particularly touching that the choir used their own experiences and words to create their song; using their music as a reflection of themselves.
To me, each and every one of the Invictus warriors are geniuses and they are true heroes who are rediscovering themselves through sport. I humbly bow down to them all for finding the inner strength to start again and to carry on in the face of adversity after sustaining their injuries. They have shown true determination and have carried on regardless.
I was truly moved by the Invictus tale that was played out. I thank the Invictus warriors for all they have done and continue to do in changing perceptions of what it means to live with a disability and to push the boundaries of possibility.