SPECIAL ISSUE: THE YOUTH PERSPECTIVE ON THE PARALYMPIC GAMES

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In the last issue of the Youth Voice Journal, we gave young people the opportunity to give their opinions on whether they think the Olympic Games that London was promised when the bid to host the Games was submitted in 2003, will live up to expectations. This issue focuses on the Paralympic Games, which organisers hope will inspire the world by demonstrating that disability does not have to act as a barrier to participation in sport. To make this a reality, the Games’ organising bodies devised an ambitious plan of works and projects to ensure accessibility and promote social inclusion. But, in a bid to reduce public spending there has, in the past year, been a desperate effort to save as much public money as possible, which inevitably has had an impact on the Games. For one, IARS’ project to engage young people in the Olympics will not be completed because of the repatriation of money from London Councils to the London boroughs. So, how confident are young people and Londoners that the Paralympics will live up to expectations?

As part of the drive to get the youth voice heard on the Paralympics, young journalists at IARS worked in close partnership with young people with disabilities at the Tower Project in Tower Hamlets, one of the Olympic boroughs. Alexandra Molano and Alex Burch’s articles argue that organisers may be unable to deliver on their promise to provide extensive disability access to the Games due to cut backs in building works and services. Similarly, Meha Patel and Farah Sadiq take a critical view of the Games’ Young Leaders Programme, which without the inclusion of any disabled Young Leaders, is missing an opportunity to engage with and inspire a sizeable number of young Londoners. Halima Khanom and finally, Davina Merchant and Anaam Raza explore opinions around the social legacy of the Games and also some of the challenges in educating wider society about disability.

The articles therefore take a constructively critical tone, which is perhaps unsurprising given that many people have very high expectations of the Games. However, it was clear that the young people who took part in informing and writing this issue of Youth Voice Magazine truly believe that the Olympic and Paralympic Games present a unique opportunity to unite all people from London, the UK and the world in celebration. The young people at the Tower Project and IARS hope that despite the effort to drive down public spending, that their opinions and views will be taken into consideration and every effort will be made to make sure that the Paralympic Games is every bit the aspirational and inspirational spectacle that we were promised.

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