How the Paralympics legacy must continue to break down barriers

Every four years, disability hits the international headlines for all the right reasons.

The Rio 2016 Paralympics brought us news of more GB gold medals than ever before and a renewed drive after London 2012 to change the way we see disabled people.

With disability in the limelight it’s important to make sure the experience of ordinary people is as much a part of the Paralympic legacy as the incredible sporting achievements.

On her visit to Rio to support ParalympicsGB, the Minister for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt, took some time away from the impressive Olympic Park to meet some young disabled people and see what support is available to them.

Children go to Dona Meca in a suburb of Rio to receive therapy and develop important skills for education and work as they get older.

The 250 children supported by the charity are offered physio, psychological, educational and speech therapies as well as activities like sports, arts and crafts to support their schooling.

Disabled children at Brazilian charity Dona Meca take part in activities including sports, dance and Capoeira.

During the visit, the Minister reflected on the unique power of the Paralympics to inspire and to transform the way we see disabled people.

Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said:

“I want to ensure the momentum created by the Games renews our focus on tackling discrimination, improving opportunities and highlighting the qualities, skills and talents of disabled people.”

Seizing on this momentum, the Government worked with Channel 4, the official Paralympic broadcaster to sign them up as a Disability Confident employer. Channel 4 will now help lead the way in encouraging businesses to see disabled people for the qualities they bring to the workplace.

The Minister said:

“We’re making it easier for disabled people to get the support they need to do their job through Access to Work and we’re asking employers to take steps to be Disability Confident.
“I urge everyone - educators, businesses and social enterprises to enable disabled people to reach their full potential. Unless they do, our nation never will.”

Disability Confident will soon be entering a new phase with the launch of a new employer accreditation scheme and the Government will be urging thousands more businesses to make the same commitment.

The Minister also announced a new, digital application process to help more people benefit from Access to Work, a DWP service supporting disabled people, to take up a job offer or stay in work.

With disability employment at a record high, these initiatives will continue the momentum of the Paralympics and create further progress in breaking down the barriers that many people still face when seeking work.

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