We've become quite familiar with the word 'Legacy' over the summer, It seemed to be the hot Olympic word. I like many got totally swept along In Olympic fever, and I thought long and hard about what the Olympic legacy might be. Might we all start watching local hockey matches, take up cycling, develop a passion for athletics, the list was endless. Once the Olympics ended I think it didn't take people long to return to a normal sportless life. There was a sense of pride to be British, proud of team GB, but personally I don't think the whole 'Sporting Legacy' really got off the ground.
I'll be honest, I wasn't sure at all about the Paralympics. I've never watched it before, and it's never been something I've wanted to engage in. I myself have a disability, since the age of five I've had severe Arthritis. My joints are quite severally 'deformed', I struggle to walk, I need help to dress, to put shoes on, the list goes on! Honestly, I've never ever wanted to engage with my disability, I've hated it quite frankly. I despised to use the word 'disabled' when talking about myself, I'd say I had a condition or an illness, anything to not have to use the dreaded D word. Sometimes I use a wheelchair and I hated being in it. I would never make eye contact with people and if anyone did happen to look at me I would be imagining what they are thinking "Aww look at her, poor girl. She'll never have a life" When out in public and I needed help, whether that was to take my coat off or to help me try some shoes on during a shopping trip I'd shut my eyes and blank everything out.
I've been stared at countless times, I've had people ask me out right "What's wrong with you?!" I've loathed myself, I never ever thought someone would find me attractive, I've gone into bars on nights out and held my head down in shame. I've gone out of my way to cover my joints up, to ensure no one could see my swollen wrists or knees. I've been too scared to wear a dress and let people see my legs.
The Paralympics made me feel uncomfortable. I know that says a lot about me! I wasn't sure how it was going to make me feel. One day I was home alone and I settled down with a nice cuppa and started to watch..... I soon found myself swept along! Gradually I noticed people's perceptions were changing, I noticed I was starting to find myself thinking wow! Paralympic fever swept over us all, we stopped noticing the disability and started to see the person, the ability. I genuinely think these games have succeeded to do something that Governments, disability organisations, the press, Tv program's, have been trying to do for years. They've changed public perception to disability. We now don't just see the disability we see what that person can do, disability is something to be proud of. I never ever thought I'd say that! I myself have found myself thinking what can I do?!
For me the Paralympics have left us with the biggest legacy. For the first time in 24 years I want to hold my head up high and say yes, I have a disability and I'm proud.
Thanks for reading!
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