By Sophie Maziere, Trustee DRUK
On Saturday 10th December I had the pleasure of representing Disability Rights UK (DRUK) at the first day of the National Para Swimming Championships at Manchester Aquatics Centre, the home of the British Para-Swimming Team. The event was partnered by the English Federation of Disability Sport. The day got off to a great start with some of the medal winners from the Paralympics in Rio having the opportunity to be celebrated and to have their achievements recognised again with a ‘Parade of Champions’.
During the day, competitors as young as 10 years old and medal winners alongside aspiring champions competed in a range of events (breast stroke, freestyle and individual medley) with medals awarded for the first three placed competitors in each individual classification event, along with points to add to all competitors’ running totals. The event was a fantastic example of participation in sport, of achievement and sheer hard work. Young swimmers had the chance to be inspired by the performances of their peers, some of whom have become household names this year.
One of DRUK’s key priorities for 2016 to 2019 is Independent Living: getting a life. We believe it is your right as disabled people to be active in any way that is right for you and to choose, if you wish, to use your personal budget to achieve this. Our project, Get Yourself Active, launched in June this year in partnership with Sport England, supports disabled people to get more involved in physical activity and sport. It is working to break down barriers to participation and promote choice and control for individuals. Get Yourself Active is not only helping DPULOs to create physical activity opportunities but is also working at a national level to raise understanding of the value and benefits of using personal budgets for physical activity and sport.
The English Federation of Disability Sport has the vision that ‘disabled people are active for life’ and whilst not everyone may be heading for Paralympian levels of sporting success (me included although I am very proud of achieving my first 5k for Parallel London this summer!), we all can benefit from the positive impact that more activity has including greater inclusion in our local communities.