The Paralympic Flame has been extinguished, and the Paralympic Flag has been handed over to Tokyo for four years of safe keeping. Yes, this means the Paralympic Games is over! Our successful athletes will be flying home and will inevitably arrive to a hero's welcome.

 

An equal chance

Unfortunately, as I’ve alluded to before, many disabled people in the UK are not able to live the lives they want to. Be this because of a lack of confidence, a lack of opportunities, or a lack of awareness, much needs to be done to ensure we all have an equal chance of achieving our goals.

 

I am lucky enough to be Vice President for United Response, a charity that aims to work towards equality for all. The great thing about United Response is that they take a person-centred approach to everything they do. This is incredibly important because everyone is different, with different goals. Therefore, the opportunities for disabled people to live the lives they want are far greater and richer.

 

Core values

The Paralympic Movement has four core values: determination, courage, equality and inspiration. These values are fundamental throughout the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Family. They are values that everyone involved strive to embrace and promote. Also, United Response also has four core values. While similar to the Paralympic values, United Response’s values are ones that should be embraced by our entire society:

 

  • Uphold the belief that all individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and we all have a responsibility to treat others with respect
  • Work together with people to establish practices which express diversity
  • Ensure that all facilities, resources and services are responsive, relevant and accessible to all who wish to access them
  • Create and sustain environments which encourage people to develop their full potential.

 

Opening doors

If we were able to add these eight values together and use them in everyday life, so much good would shine through. I realise that the phrase “anything is possible” is often overused. However, there are just a few doors that need to be unlocked and opened. But, realistically, opening those doors will unleash a world of hidden potential, allowing so many more people to achieve their goals.

 

Rio 2016 was an outstanding Paralympic Games. So many of our GB athletes have been incredibly successful. My hope is that their successes create a flow of understanding and inspiration throughout the country. I also hope that we make every effort to strive towards acceptance and respect for all.

 

What will YOU do?

We won 64 Paralympic Gold medals in Rio 2016. What is YOUR goal? What will YOU do?

 

By Fran Williamson, six-time Paralympic swimming medallist and five-time World Champion. Fran is also our Vice President and a committed supporter of United Response.

Find out more about Fran Williamson

Find out more about the Rio Paralympics