If it is true that some that are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them , the Special Olympics in the United States and the Paralympics that will be in London truly encompass the opportunity to have a moment with all three effects.
Every season of every year, thousands of individuals with disabilities gather from all over the country to participate in sporting events, not as a people with impairments and challenges, but collectively as Special Olympic athletes. The echo of the Special Olympic oath “Let me win; but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” sets the tone for the sporting events and determines the attitudes that the athletes will approach their time together with. As a volunteer within the Special Olympic community in the US, I know that it takes just as much – if not more – training and development to prepare the volunteers for the athletic events as it does for the athletes competing.
Every four years, thousands of Paralympic athletes from all over the world compete in the summer and winter games. The Olympics and Paralympics that are to be held in London in 2012 are supposed to be the most “inclusive Olympics to date.” The committee overseeing 2012 have said their vision is to “use the power of the Games to inspire change” and have promised that every volunteer will receive training appropriate for ensuring a smooth event. As a spectator who has been working with disability equality training in London and as a volunteer for the highly organized Special Olympic events in the states, I am having a difficult time locating the exact vision of what is to take place with an event of such magnitude. Does anyone else feel excluded from the planning and process that is supposedly taking place?
In the last three years, the United States has had a historical election, China hosted a monumental Olympic games, and four paralympic sports have had their funding cut due to a 50 million pound budget shortfall as noted by Disabled World. If change is the name of the game, what is to happen in the next three years? What kind of training will the volunteers receive to ensure that they are prepared to accommodate the needs of the competitors and spectators? How is the disabled community being involved in the planning process?
While greatness has the potential to be ‘thrust upon some’, when it comes to an event as grand as the Paralympics greatness can only be achieved with preparation. The planning for the 2012 games must be more than brave in their attempt to create an extraordinarily accessible event; they must be inclusive of the disabled community and articulate their vision to the public.