A new sporting initiative will look to build on the successes of the London 2012 Paralympics and help dispel some of the myths around learning disabilities.
The UK Sports Association (UKSA), the organisation that manages the eligibility and classification process for UK athletes with a learning disability, has announced the launch of its ‘My Sport, My Voice!’ project, which will aim to raise awareness of talented athletes with a learning disability among the general public and give them a platform to share their views and challenge perceptions around disability.
My Sport, My Voice!, which will commence in April 2014, has been made possible thanks to an award from the Big Lottery Fund under its Spirit of 2012 Trust’s ‘Keeping the Spirit of 2012 Alive’ initiative.
The project will involve establishing an Athlete Ambassador programme and implementing a series of nationwide workshops to engage with the public. These workshops, which will be co-delivered by the Athlete Ambassadors, will help to dispel myths around learning disability, challenge outdated attitudes and enhance public awareness of the issues facing disabled people.
Tracey McCillen, chief executive of the UKSA, said: “My Sport, My Voice! will help to raise the profile of athletes with learning disability and of their remarkable achievements, both in and out of the sporting arena.
“The whole project is about including the athletes in every aspect, putting them at the very centre as our Athlete Ambassadors and enabling them to have their voice heard.”
The project will be delivered in collaboration with the four Home Nation partner bodies – English Federation of Disability Sport, Scottish Disability Sport, Disability Sport Northern Ireland and Disability Sport Wales.
Jon Morgan, executive director of Disability Sport Wales, said: “Having the opportunity to play a central role in the delivery of the ‘My Sport, My Voice!’ project is something that all four Home Nation partners are very excited about.
“It is a fantastic initiative which will help to build on the momentum gathered during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. By educating the public and encouraging the development of positive perceptions of people with learning disability we have a real opportunity to influence change.”
Peter Ainsworth, chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: "Like the 2012 London Games, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are set to inspire people and communities across the UK.
“My Sport, My Voice!’ is all about creating a positive, lasting legacy from the 2012 Games through challenging misconceptions around disabilities through the efforts of some fantastic athletes. It is just this kind of aim that inspired the Big Lottery Fund to set up The Spirit of 2012 Trust, which will be supporting many more brilliant projects like ‘My Sport, My Voice!’ in the run up to next summer and beyond.”