Tanni Grey-Thompson: Brands hold key to realising potential of disabled people in sport
London 2012 changed perceptions around disabled people in sport but brands can help increase participation, writes Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Ten years after the London Olympics and Paralympics, disabled people are still facing massive barriers to sports participation.
While 2012 created a benchmark for future events, it didn’t result in an influx of disabled people taking up sport.
Within the UK’s total population, more than one in five of us has a disability. More than four in five (77 per cent) would like to be more active, but only four in 10 say they have opportunities to be as active as they want to be, compared to 69 per cent of non-disabled people.
While London 2012 remains an inspirational moment, the barriers faced by disabled people in their day-to-day living – from healthcare to employment, social care, education, transport and access – still remain.
Solving these issues is beyond the remit of any single sporting event, however some brands are waking up to the part they can play in increasing visibility and investment in disability sport.
This year’s Laureus Sport for Good Index has seen an increase in purpose-led projects which increase inclusion within sport, enabling people with disabilities to access the same physical and mental health benefits of sport as able bodied participants.
Paralympians Jonny Peacock and Richard Whitehead have increased the visibility and medal haul of runners with prosthetics, but blades remain expensive with access to them limited under the NHS.
The Index demonstrates real examples of brands tackling these challenges head-on.
Nissan GB’s Possibilities Project is seeking to make the sport less cost-prohibitive by providing prosthetics to young people. The car maker has also provided a fleet of powerchairs to create a safer, more competitive experience for the Manchester City Disability Team.
Sport also opens up access to wider life opportunities including volunteering, work placements and accreditation.
Everton in the Community’s disability team is supported by Hummel, with the sportswear company listed in the Index for funding 20 players to undertake the Football Association’s Play Maker and Introduction into football courses, supporting them to become disability coaches themselves.
There is no doubt that London 2012 changed perceptions of Paralympic and disability sport, and maybe it’s played its role in the increased investment we are seeing now – albeit a decade on.
With this increased impetus, however, there is plenty of room for brands to be part of the next chapter, building a momentum which enables all people with disabilities to access the benefits of sport.
Laureus Academy member Tanni Grey-Thompson is one of Britain’s greatest Paralympic athletes. The Laureus Sport for Good Index celebrates brands which make a difference through the power of sport. Brands are recognised for their collaboration, innovation and creativity, across the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. https://sportforgoodindex.sportspromedia.com