21 January 2021

Impact stories: our movement

The proud home of Paralympic sport, the UK has been challenging perceptions of disability and breaking down barriers ever since those very first Stoke Mandeville Games for injured service personnel in 1948.

London 2012 was an awe-inspiring Paralympics which captured the hearts of the public like never before, creating new role models, breaking records for attendance and coverage with over 2.7million tickets sold and a worldwide audience of over 3.8billion.

And thanks to our determination to showcase these wonderful Paralympians and celebrate what they CAN DO rather than focus on what they cannot the movement continues to grow!

At Rio 2016, ParalympicsGB excelled again, finishing second in the medal table and over 700 hours of Paralympic sport were broadcast to a global audience exceeding four billion for the first time. Channel 4 won multiple awards for its marketing campaign “We’re the Superhumans”.

And recent research demonstrated that celebrating the achievements of Paralympic athletes in mainstream media and through the significant reach of ParalympicsGB digital channels can be a key factor in challenging perceptions of disability in the UK.

Research from ComRes* suggests that the success of these athletes may have a direct impact on breaking down barriers, shifting perceptions and increasing opportunities for all disabled people.

84% of UK adults say the achievements of ParalympicsGB athletes have a positive impact on society overall 74% of UK adults perceive ParalympicsGB to be an inspirational sports team – more than any of the other teams listed 82% of disabled UK adults believe the Paralympic Games provides positive media coverage of disabled people

Nick Webborn, Chair of the British Paralympic Association, said: “This research is the strongest proof yet of the direct link between the success of our talented Paralympic athletes and its wider social benefit.”

“We believe that the success our Paralympic stars achieve on the field of play can be turned into meaningful, long-term action – turning the nation’s cheers into change and those medals into a movement.” ​

At each Summer and Winter Games ParalympicsGB works tirelessly to promote the athletes’ stories and build their profile. Each Summer Paralympics we celebrate more than 100 medals winners, who then go out in to their communities to be role models and break down barriers for disabled people throughout the UK.

Double Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock, who was the first Paralympian to take part in hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, said: “A massive part of it has to come from 2012 - that was the first step of really starting to normalize disability and being treated as normal, being treated as sports people.

“For me it’s opening that new door for people who haven’t perhaps seen the Paralympics and aren’t aware of what people with disabilities can do.

“I wanted to break down perceptions – to try and prove some people wrong who might think that someone with one leg is not going to be able to pivot, or do a certain step. I want to go out and prove how well disabled people can do things.”

We continue to work with partners and stakeholders to promote equality and opportunity for the 13.9million disabled people in the UK – harnessing the power or sport to be the catalyst for wider societal change.

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