via email from Steve Preece.
Letter For Publication
We all know in our sound judgement that it is unfair to judge the
abilities of one person against another – we are told this when we
have children. Each will strive to reach different milestones in their
own time. We are told that we shouldn't worry if one child starts to
crawl, walk or talk earlier than another and that we should give all
children the time they need to blossom.
One cannot deny Paralympians have worked hard to succeed and overcome
many obstacles their disabilities present. They rightly deserve our
support and admiration for their achievements. The many hours of hard
graft and pain they endure to be able to reach the pinnacle of
sporting excellence shows the high level of commitment and drive
needed to become the best they can be.
As the Paralympics prepare to get under-way there are many disabled
people who fear that the media, and even the government will use this
display as an already growing propaganda tool against sick and
disabled people claiming benefits.
When you have a private healthcare company at least partly responsible
for wrongfully finding sick and disabled people 'fit-for-work'
sponsoring both the Olympics and Paralympics it is easy to understand
why so many disabled people believe the games have a hidden agenda.
How would you react if told you could – if you put your mind to it –
run 100 metres in less than 10 seconds just because Usain Bolt can, or
compete in a heptathlon just because Jessica Ennis does? Everyone has
different capabilities, learning styles and ways of processing
information. Some people are good with their hands and others in
mental tasks, not everyone is the same or can achieve the same as
others. You could train just as hard as Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis
but never necessarily reach the same level as they are and never
necessarily become a celebrated Olympian.
This is not a defeatist attitude, and for the purpose of health and
fitness sport can be highly beneficial for everyone but in the wave of
national hysteria that has followed the 2012Olympics and will now move
on to the Paralympics we must also calm ourselves down a little with a
reality check. If you are lucky and work hard you may find that you
excel at sport and become our sportsmen and sportswomen of the future
but sadly not everyone will achieve these heights no matter how hard
they work at it. We all recognise this basic fact of life just as we
recognise that not all children will develop in the same way and not
all of us can become famous singers.
The whole propaganda machine against benefits claimants and the push
by the Tory led government to get as many sick and disabled people off
benefits no matter the cost now risks expanding to comparing
Paralympians to sick and disabled people claiming benefits. If you are
a Paralympian reading this then ask yourself if you would agree with
the media and others using your achievements as a tool against sick
and other disabled people just because they are not fortunate enough
to follow in your footsteps?
Some people with disabilities may never find themselves in a position
of becoming sportsmen and women. By all means disabled and able-bodied
people should be encouraged and assisted to take part in sport but not
through the use of cruel propaganda attacking those in receipt of
sickness and disability benefits. There are times when we wonder what
has happened to the country I grew up in as a child – the country that
used to show respect and compassion to all sick and disabled people
regardless of ability – because from what we see on a daily basis that
country no longer exists.
We ask that the press and wider media report on these games in such a
way that will help tackle the growing prejudice and discrimination
being shown toward sick and disabled benefit claimants and not use
this great event as a cruel and malicious propaganda tool – hopefully
they will not.
Link to letter: http://socialwelfareunion.org/archives/1119