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Paralympics 2020 'United in Emotion'

So here we are. Today launches the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, drawing to a close on 5th September. After the long delays caused by COVID19, we can watch our athletes compete in what will probably be the most emotional games of our lifetimes. After these past 18 months, 'United in Emotion' is certainly fitting.

We love to see disabled people being represented in the media - and Paralympics is such an emotive event it's definitely the spark of patriotism we all needed after 2020.

As disabled people we know that Paralympics can bring up a whole host of feelings (especially after the Super Humans marketing campaign run by Channel 4).

We simply cannot however, celebrate this event without taking time to remember our fallen. The pandemic has seen the loss of millions of people worldwide, and so many of them disabled people.

Not only those who died from COVID19, are the countless disabled people who went without care and support in other areas during the pandemic, costing them their lives.

Today we celebrate the achievements of these athletes yes, but we also reflect.

When we talk about the achievements of disabled athletes we're not just talking the immense physical and mental preparation you must have to go through to even make it to Tokyo 2020, but that of the daily struggle for any disabled person.

Channel 4 may have realised the error of their ways after their Super Humans adverts and seem to have changed lanes this year - focusing on the every day struggle.

Here's an example of their new ad campaign:

What is interesting about media surrounding the Paralympics is almost always focused on how these people have 'overcome their disability' - and almost never about the barriers they had to overcome as disabled people.

Disabled people don't overcome their disability - we overcome barriers, where possible. Unfortunately for the most part, those barriers are so systemic it's impossible for us to overcome them. The Paralympics is not a snapshot of what it is to be disabled, just as the Olympics isn't a snapshot of what it is to be non-disabled.

I hope after the pandemic, this Paralympic games can focus on the disabled people we've lost - the basic human rights battles we are still fighting and hold the media to account. We've come a long way yes, but we have far to go.

Good luck to everyone taking part and come on Team GB! You can do it!

Kimberly Development Manager Equal Lives featured on BBC Radio Norfolk on Tuesday's breakfast show, listen back on BBC Sounds.

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