Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Greetings



It is estimated that Santa will visit 842,000,000 homes this Christmas at a speed of 4,796,250 mph!

Hope he remembers your house and brings all your Christmas wishes!

All best wishes for the festive season.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Paralympic Games 2012- Wheelchair Basketball


Where: North Greenwich Arena; Olympic Park - Basketball Arena
When
: Thursday 30 August – Saturday 8 September 2012
Medal events: 2
Athletes: 264 (144 men, 120 women; 12 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams)

Wheelchair Basketball was developed by American World War II veterans as part of their rehabilitation programme, but its popularity soon spread around the world. Now played in more than 80 countries, it is one of the most dynamic on the Paralympic programme, and should draw large and enthusiastic crowds to the Basketball Arena and North Greenwich Arena during London 2012.

The Basics
The rules of Wheelchair Basketball are broadly similar to Basketball. The court is the same size, the basket is at the same height, and the scoring is identical: two points for a regular shot from open play, one point for each successful free throw and three points for a shot from distance (6.75m from the basket). Players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling, and are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalised for travelling.

There are 12 players in each team, with no more than five on court. Every player is assigned a point value based on their functional ability, 1.0 to 4.5. During play, the total on-court point value for each team of five players cannot exceed 14.
Both the men’s and women’s tournaments begin with a round-robin – the 12 men’s teams divided into two groups of six teams, the 10 women’s teams divided into groups of five. The top four teams in each group qualify for the quarter-finals, from which point the tournaments are played to a knockout format.

Wheelchair Basketball - Past & Present
Wheelchair Basketball featured at the first Games in Rome 1960, and has remained on the Paralympic programme ever since. The women’s competition was added at the Tel Aviv 1968 Games.

At London 2012, the Basketball competition will take place at two venues. The preliminary games will be split between the Basketball Arena, a new purpose-built venue in the Olympic Park, and the state-of-the-art North Greenwich Arena just across the Thames. All quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal games will take place at North Greenwich Arena.

Jargon Buster
Assist: A pass that leads directly to a basket scored by a teammate.
Downtown: The area outside the three-point line.
Shot clock: A timer measuring the length of time since the last shot. If the ball doesn’t touch the rim or pass through the net within 24 seconds, possession passes to the opposition.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 5 December 2011

Paralympic Games 2012- Sitting Volleyball


Where: ExCeL
When:
Thursday 30 Aug – Saturday 8 Sept 2012
Medal events: 2
Athletes: 198 (110 men, 88 women; 10 men's teams and 8 women's teams)

Sitting Volleyball emerged in the Netherlands in the 1950s, a combination of Volleyball and a German game called Sitzbal. It really began to increase in popularity during the 1960s, and has since grown into one of the most fast-paced and exciting Paralympic sports. Now played by athletes in more than 50 countries around the world, the sport should draw big crowds at London 2012.

The Basics
Sitting Volleyball is played by two teams of six on a 10m x 6m indoor court divided by a net (1.15m high for men, 1.05m for women). The object of the game is to land the ball in the opposition’s half of the court, with each team allowed three touches of the ball (in addition to a legal block) before it must cross over the net.

Matches are the best of five sets, with the first four sets played as the first to 25points; if a fifth set is necessary, it is won by the first team to reach 15 points. In all sets, a margin of at least two points is required for victory.

At London 2012, both the men’s and women’s events will begin with a round-robin group stage: the 10 men’s teams will be divided into two groups of five teams, with the eight women’s teams divided into groups of four. In the men’s competition, the top four teams in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals, from which point the competition will be conducted to a knockout format. For the women’s event, the top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winning semi-finalists then facing off for the gold.

Sitting Volleyball – Past & Present
Sitting Volleyball made its debut as a Paralympic medal sport at the Arnhem 1980 Games. A women’s event was added to the Paralympic programme in 2004.

At London 2012, the Sitting Volleyball competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Paralympic and Olympic sports.

Jargon Buster
Block: Preventing the attacking ball to come over the net by forming a ‘wall’ of hands at the net.
Dig: A defensive passing shot from close to the ground.
Setter: The player who ‘sets’ the ball for the attacker, usually on the second of the team’s three permitted shots.
Wipe: To return the ball off an opposing block so it lands out of bound




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Paralympic Games 2012- Table Tennis


Where ExCeL
When:
Thursday 30 August – Saturday 8 September 2012
Medal Events: 29
Athletes: 276 (174 men, 102 women)

Table Tennis has come a long way from its origins in the late nineteenth century, when it developed as an after-dinner game played by upper-class English families. A permanent part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games in 1960, the sport blends power, speed, skill and subtlety – no wonder it is the biggest participation sport in the world.

The Basics
Table Tennis is based on the same basic principles as Tennis, but it has a very different scoring system. At the Paralympic Games, matches are played over the best of five games, with the first player to 11 points (by a margin of two clear points) winning each game. The programme includes individual and team events for both standing players and wheelchair athletes.

At London 2012, all individual events will begin with a group qualification stage followed by a knockout competition, with athletes progressing through the draw until the finals. The team events will be conducted according to a direct knockout format.

A total of 11 different classifications are used in Table Tennis at the Paralympic Games. Classes 1-5 cover wheelchair athletes, classes 6-10 cover standing athletes, and class 11 covers athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Paralympic Table Tennis – Past & Present
Table Tennis has been part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games at Rome in 1960 (28 years before the sport made its Olympic debut). Events for standing players were first included at the Toronto 1976 Games, while athletes with cerebral palsy took part for the first time at Moscow in 1980.

At London 2012, the Table Tennis competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Paralympic and Olympic sports.

Jargon Buster
Blade: The flat, rigid part of the racket used for striking the ball.
Loop: An attacking shot, often played with plenty of topspin.
Penhold: A type of grip where the racket is held as if it was a pen.
Let: As well as service lets (similar to Tennis), a let may be called if play is interrupted – for example, by a ball from another table entering the playing area. If this happens, the rally is replayed.
Time-out: Each player may claim a time-out of up to one minute during an individual match.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 14 November 2011

Paralympic Games 2012- Swimming


Where: Olympic Park - Aquatics Centre

When
: Thursday 30th Aug – Saturday 8th Sept 2012

Medal Events: 148
Athletes: 600 (350 men, 250 women)

Evidence of people swimming for sport dates back all the way back to Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek times, and it is now a hugely popular activity all over the world. With 600 swimmers competing in nearly 150 medal events across 10 days in the beautiful new Aquatics Centre, the Swimming competition at the Paralympic Games promises plenty of excitement.

The Basics
Four strokes are used in Paralympic competition: Freestyle (essentially front crawl), Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly. All four strokes feature in the Medley Relay and 200m Individual Medley events; in addition, all of them except Butterfly feature in the 150m Individual Medley events for certain classifications. Races take place in a 50m pool, and may be started in a number of ways: from a standing start; using a dive start from a sitting position on the starting platform; and from within the water.

Swimmers are classified according to how their impairment affects their ability to perform each stroke. Classification numbers 1-10 cover athletes with physical impairments, with class 1 swimmers’ impairment having the greatest impact on their ability to perform strokes, through to class 10 swimmers’ impairment having the least impact. Athletes with a visual impairment compete in classes 11-13, with class 11 having little or no sight, through to class 13 having limited sight. Athletes with an intellectual impairment compete in class 14.

Breaststroke uses greater leg propulsion than any other stroke, therefore athletes with a physical impairment often have a different class for this event compared to Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly. This is also taken into account when athletes compete in the Individual Medley. This is shown by the prefix:

• S before the class represents Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly • SB before the class represents Breaststroke
• SM before the class represents Individual Medley

Paralympic Swimming - Past & Present
Swimming is one of the few sports to have featured at every Paralympic Games since 1960, and remains one of the most popular on the Paralympic programme. At London 2012, the Swimming events will be held at the dazzling new Aquatics Centre, built especially for the Games in the Olympic Park.

Jargon Buster
Medley: A combination event in which a swimmer or team swims separate legs of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.

Classification: Provides a structure for competition, whereby athletes with disabilities are grouped in classes defined by the degree of function presented by the disability.

Tapper: A ‘tapper’ may be required by a swimmer with a visual impairment to indicate that that they are approaching the end of the pool.





Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrance - November 11th




They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

For the Fallen,
Linden Binyan
Year 1914

Paralympic Games 2012- Shooting


Where: The Royal Artillery Barracks
When: Thursday 30th Aug – Thursday 6th Sept 2012

Medal events: 12

Athletes: 140 (100 men, 40 women)


Having been practised competitively for centuries, the tough and demanding sport of Shooting is now popular all over the world. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the 12 events will be held in the historic surroundings of The Royal Artillery Barracks, the perfect setting for a sport that should offer plenty of drama and tension across eight days of competition.

The Basics
The Paralympic Shooting programme includes both rifle and pistol events: three men’s events, three women’s events and six mixed events. Athletes with different disabilities compete together in two classes – SH1, for athletes who can support the weight of their firearm themselves, and SH2, for athletes who use a shooting stand to support their arm.

The target is made up of 10 scoring rings. The centre ring, known as the bull’s-eye, is worth 10 points, or 10.9 points in finals. Athletes shoot from a variety of positions – standing, sitting or prone – at distances of 10m, 25m and 50m. The rules for each event depend on the firearm, the distance, shooting position, number of shots and the time limit, but each competition consists of a qualification and a final round.

Paralympic Shooting - Past & Present
Shooting has been part of the Paralympic Games since Toronto in 1976, when three events were held. At one point the number of events expanded to as many as 29, but since the Sydney 2000 Games a standard 12 events have been included.
At London 2012, the Shooting competition will be held at a truly historic venue: The Royal Artillery Barracks. Its rich heritage dates back to 1716, when a Royal Warrant authorised the formation of two artillery companies at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. The current building was constructed between 1775 and 1802.

Jargon Buster
Pistol: One of two firearms used in Paralympic Shooting, the pistol is shot with one hand.

Shoot-off: A tiebreaker.

Three positions: Rifle events in which competitors shoot in standing, kneeling and prone positions.




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 7 November 2011

Paralympic Games 2012- Sailing


Where: Weymouth and Portland, Dorset

When: Saturday 1st Sept –Thursday 6th Sept 2012

Medal Events: 3

Athletes: 80

Sailing for athletes with a disability began to develop as a competitive sport in the 1980s, just over 10 years before it joined the Paralympic programme. Mastery over ever-changing conditions on open water requires skill, tactics and nerve, all of which will be essential for competitors in the Paralympic Sailing events at London 2012.

The Basics
At the Paralympic Games, athletes compete in three mixed events: the Single-Person, Two-Person and Three-Person Keelboat competitions. The design of the keelboats used in Paralympic competition provides greater stability, and the boats have open cockpits to allow more room for the sailors. Classification is used to level the playing field where there are a variety of disability levels.

Paralympic Sailing - Past & Present
Sailing was introduced to the Paralympic Games as a demonstration event at Atlanta in 1996. Four years later, it became a full medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Games. At London 2012, the Paralympic Sailing competition will be held in the beautiful but testing waters of Weymouth Bay on the south coast of England.

Jargon Buster
- Port: When looking forwards, the left-hand side of the craft.

- Starboard: When looking forwards, the right-hand side of the craft.

- Tacking: When a boat passes through the eye of the wind in order to change direction. Because it is impossible to sail directly into the wind, sailing boats must zigzag.

- Keel boat: Any boat with a keel as opposed to a centreboard or dagger board as used in dinghies.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Rowing


Where: Eton Dorney
When: Friday 31st Aug – Sunday 2nd Sept 2012

Medal Events: 4
Athletes: 96 (48 men, 48 women)

Although its history dates back centuries, Rowing only came of age as a competitive sport in the last 200 years. Interest began to increase after Oxford and Cambridge Universities began their rivalry on the Thames in 1829, a rivalry that continues today in the shape of the annual Boat Race. The sport made its Paralympic debut in Beijing – when Great Britain topped the medal table – and looks set to offer plenty of drama at London 2012.

The Basics
Paralympic Rowing is commonly referred to as ‘adaptive’ Rowing, meaning that the equipment is adapted so the athlete can practise the sport rather than the sport being adapted to the athlete.

At London 2012, the programme will feature four medal events. These include two mixed-gender events – the Coxed Four and Double Sculls – plus the men’s and women’s Single Sculls. All the races will be held over a 1000m course.

Paralympic Rowing events at London 2012 will all begin with heats, with two boats from each heat qualifying directly for the final. All remaining boats will then compete in two repechage races, which offer a second chance to qualify for the final and row for gold.

Paralympic Rowing - Past & Present
The newest arrival on the Paralympic programme, Rowing appeared at the Games for the first time at Beijing in 2008. At London 2012, the competition will be held on the spectacular lake at Eton Dorney.

Jargon Buster
- Coxswain: The coxswain, or ‘cox’, sits at the stern and is responsible for steering the boat and directing the crew.

- Scull: To row with two oars, one in each hand. 

- Sweep: To row with one oar



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 31 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Powerlifting



Where: ExCeL
When: Thursday 30th Aug – Wednesday 5th Sept 2012
Medal Events: 20
Athletes: 200 (120 men, 80 women)

With athletes from more than 100 countries now involved in international competition, Paralympic Powerlifting is one of the world’s fastest growing sports. The bench-press contest offers a tense and dramatic sporting spectacle, as athletes battle to lift more weight than their rivals.

The Basics
In Powerlifting, athletes must meet a minimum eligibility criteria based on their impairment. They are then grouped by bodyweight for competition, which means athletes with different impairments compete for the same medals. There are 10 different weight categories for men and women

Powerlifters must lower the bench-press bar to their chest, hold it motionless, and then press it upwards to arm’s length while keeping their elbows locked. Athletes are given three attempts, and the winner is the athlete who lifts the largest weight (measured in kilograms).

Paralympic Powerlifting - Past & Present
After its initial introduction to the Paralympic Games at Tokyo in 1964, when it was billed as Weightlifting, the sport now known as Powerlifting underwent a major transition, expanding to include athletes with cerebral palsy or spinal injuries, lower-limb amputees and ‘les autres’ (‘the other’ disability groups). Women made their Paralympic Powerlifting debut at Sydney 2000, and the sport has continued to grow at a rapid rate ever since.

For London 2012, the Powerlifting competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Paralympic and Olympic sports.

Jargon Buster
- Bench: The bench stands no more than 0.5m high and must be at least 0.61m wide.

- Commencement and completion: The start and end of each lift, indicated respectively by a downward or upward arm motion from the chief referee.

- Platform: The field of play, measuring at least 2.5m x 2.5m and no more than 4m x 4m.




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Judo



Where: ExCeL
When
: Thursday 30th Aug – Saturday 1st Sept 2012

Medal Events: 13
Athletes: 132 (84 men, 48 women)

Developed from jujitsu and established as a sport in the late 19th century by Dr Jigoro Kano, Judo requires athletes to employ an intricate mix of attack and defence. Contested at the Paralympic Games by visually impaired athletes, the sport’s one-on-one battles can be tough, tense and explosive, as competitors grapple for command against determined opponents.

The Basics
Judo contests last five minutes, with scores awarded for different throws and holds. However, a contest ends immediately if a competitor is awarded ‘ippon’ – the maximum score. If the scores are tied after five minutes, the contest enters a golden score period, when the first score of any sort wins. At the Paralympic Games, the main difference from other top-level Judo competition is that judoka (athletes), who all have visual impairments, are allowed to have contact with their opponent before each contest begins.

All of the Judo events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be played in a knockout format with double repechage, and will end with two finalists going head to head in the gold medal contest. Athletes who have previously been defeated by these two finalists will compete in repechage contests, with the winners of the repechage table finals fighting the losers from the opposite tables for the two bronze medals.

Paralympic Games Judo Past & Present
Judo first featured on the Paralympic programme at Seoul 1988, with women’s events introduced 16 years later in Athens. The programme now features seven medal events for men and six for women, covering a range of weight categories.

At London 2012, the Paralympic Judo competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Jargon Buster
- Hajime: The referee's command to start a contest.

- Judogi: A judo uniform.

- Judoka: A competitor.

- Tatami: The mat.




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 24 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Goalball



Where: Olympic Park - Handball Arena

When
: Thursday 30th Aug – Friday 7th Sept 2012

Medal Events: 2

Athletes: 132 (72 men, 60 women;12 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams)

Since it was developed as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers returning from World War II, Goalball has spread around the world. Played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with bells inside, it is among the most exciting team sports on the Paralympic programme.

The Basics
Goalball is played by two teams of three visually impaired athletes on an indoor court with tactile lines, with goals (9m wide x 1.3m high) at either end. The aim is to score by rolling the ball into the opposition’s goal, while the opposition attempts to block the ball with their bodies. 

All athletes are visually impaired, and wear eyeshades to allow athletes with varying degrees of vision to compete together. The Goalball arena is silent during play so that players can hear the ball, but spectators are free to cheer when a goal is scored.

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments begin with a round-robin group stage. The 12 men’s teams are divided into two groups of six teams, while the 10 women’s teams are divided into groups of five. The top four teams in each group qualify for the quarter-finals, from which point the tournaments are played in a knockout format.

Paralympic Games Goalball - Past & Present
Introduced to the Games as a demonstration event at the Toronto 1976 Games, Goalball was added to the Paralympic programme as a full medal sport four years later in Arnhem. The women’s tournament first featured at the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Games.

For London 2012, the Goalball competition will take place at the brand new Handball Arena in the Olympic Park, purpose-built for the Games

Jargon Buster
- Ball: Made of rubber, the ball used in Goalball is 24-25cm in diameter, and has eight holes that allow players to hear the bells within the ball when it moves.

- Court: The playing area, measuring 18m x 9m. All the lines on the court are tactile.

- Extra throws: Tied games are broken by extra throws, similar in principle to a penalty shootout.




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - 7-Aside-Football



Where: Olympic Park - Hockey Centre
When: Saturday 1st Sept - Sunday 9th Sept 2012
Medal Events: 1
Athletes: 96 (all men; eight teams)

One of two Football variations played at the Paralympic Games, 7-a-side Football is a fast-moving and fiercely competitive sport played by athletes with cerebral palsy. At London 2012, the Hockey Centre will host eight men’s teams in a 20-match tournament, culminating in the gold medal match on 9 September.

The Basics
7-a-side Football follows FIFA rules, with some modifications: each team consists of seven players; the playing field is smaller, as are the goals (5m by 2m); there’s no offside rule; throw-ins may be made with one hand only; and each half lasts 30 minutes. Teams are made up of ambulant cerebral palsy athletes, and each side must maintain a line-up featuring players with varying levels of disability.

The Paralympic tournament will feature eight men’s teams, initially two groups of four teams playing in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winning semi-finalists going head to head for the gold.

Paralympic Games 7-Aside-Football - Past & Present
7-a-side Football has been part of the Paralympic programme since the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Games. At London 2012, all matches will be played at the brand new Hockey Centre in the Olympic Park, which will also stage the 5-a-side Football competition.

Jargon Buster
- Extra time: If a match in the knockout stages is tied at the end of 60 minutes, the teams play 20 minutes of extra time in a bid to find a winner.

- Penalty shootout: If a match remains tied after extra time, it is decided by a penalty shootout following standard FIFA rules.

- Pitch: The playing area, measuring no less than 70m x 50m and no more than 75m x 55m.




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 17 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - 5-Aside-Football



Where: Olympic Park - Hockey Centre
When
: Friday 31st Aug – Saturday 8th Sept 2012
Medal Events: 1
Athletes: 64 (all men; eight teams)

One of two forms of Football on the Paralympic programme, 5-a-side Football is a thrilling, fast-moving spectacle. Played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with a noise-making device inside, the sport offers skill and drama in equal measure, with eight teams battling for gold at the new Hockey Centre in the Olympic Park.

The Basics
Matches are played between two teams, each with four outfield players and a goalkeeper. The outfield players are visually impaired, and wear eyeshades to ensure fairness; however, the goalkeeper may be fully or partially sighted. The pitch is surrounded with a rebound wall; the sport is played with no throw-ins and no offside rule, which ensures non-stop action. Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time.

The Paralympic tournament will feature eight men’s teams, initially two groups of four teams in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winning semi-finalists going head to head for the gold.

Paralympic Games Football 5-a-side - Past & Present
5-a-side Football made its Paralympic debut at Athens in 2004. At London 2012, all matches will be played at the brand new Hockey Centre in the Olympic Park, which will stage both the 5-a-side and 7-a-side Football competitions on alternating days.

Jargon buster
- Countdown: During the last two minutes of each half, the clock is stopped for free kicks, kick-ins, goal clearances and corner kicks.

-Extra time: If a match in the knockout stages is tied at the end of 50 minutes, the teams play 10 minutes of extra time in a bid to find a winner.

- Guides' areas: The pitch is divided into thirds, with each team allowed one guide for each third of the pitch to call out instructions: the attacking third; the midfield third, for which the team’s coach is the guide; and the defensive third, for which the goalkeeper serves as the guide.

- Pitch: The playing area, measuring 42m x 22m.




Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Equestrian



Where: Greenwich Park

When: Thursday 30th Aug – Tuesday 4th Sept 2012

Medal Events: 11

Athletes: 78

Athletes with a disability have long taken part in Equestrian activities, originally as a means of rehabilitation and recreation. Para-Equestrian Dressage developed in the 1970s, with the first events held in Great Britain and Scandinavia. The multi-disability sport has since spread around the world, and athletes from more than 40 countries now compete on a regular basis.

The Basics
At the Paralympic Games, athletes compete in three Dressage tests: a Team Test (with three to four riders per team), an Individual Championship Test, and a Freestyle Test, for which athletes choose their own movements and music. Through the tests, horse and rider must be in harmony, and the overall picture must be of lightness and rhythm.

The results of the Team and Individual Championship Tests are then added together to make the Team score, with the best three scores of a team of four counting. Individual medals are also awarded on the merit of both the Individual Championship Test and the Freestyle Test. All riders, whether competing in a team or not, may ride in the Team Test.

The athletes are classified across five grades, which determine the complexity of the movements that the riders perform with their horses.

Grade Ia is for athletes whose impairment has the greatest impact on their ability to ride, through to Grade IV for athletes whose impairment has the least impact on their ability to ride.

These grades ensure that the tests can be judged on the skill of the rider, regardless of their disability. Riders may use permitted assistive devices such as dressage crops, connecting rein bars and the like; visually impaired riders are permitted to use ‘callers’ to help them navigate around the arena.


Paralympic Equestrian - Past & Present
Equestrian events first appeared on the Paralympic programme at the 1984 Games held in Stoke Mandeville (UK) and New York (US), and have featured at every Games since Atlanta 1996.

For London 2012, the Equestrian competition will be held in the beautiful surroundings of Greenwich Park. Dating back to 1433, it is the oldest Royal Park in London, part of the Maritime Greenwich area that has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Jargon Buster
- Canter: A steady controlled gait for which three of the horse’s legs are off the ground at once.

- Full-pass: When a horse moves sideways, bent in the direction of movement.

- Half-pass: When a horse moves forwards and sideways at the same time, bent in the direction of movement.

- Self-carriage: When a horse moves in balance without support from the reins



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 10 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Cycling Track


Where: Olympic Park - Velodrome
When
: Thursday 30th Aug – Sunday 2nd September 2012
Medals Events: 18
Athletes: 225 - 155 men, 70 women (across Road and Track)

Paralympic Cycling was originally developed as a sport for blind athletes, who first competed using tandem bicycles. Technological advancements have since opened up the sport to a wider range of athletes; as a result, it is now the third largest sport on the Paralympic programme. At London 2012, athletes will race on both the road and the track in a series of events that should draw massive crowds.

The Basics
The 50 medal events that make up the Paralympic Cycling competition feature athletes with a visual impairment, cerebral palsy, amputations or other physical disabilities competing on bicycles, tricycles, tandems and hand cycles.
At London 2012, there will be 18 Paralympic Track Cycling events (10 for men, seven for women and one mixed event), which test speed, endurance and teamwork.

At the Paralympic Games there will be 12 classes in Cycling. Tandem has one class, handcycle has four classes, tricycle has two classes and bicycle has five classes. The lower the athlete’s class number, the greater the impact of their impairment on their ability to cycle.

There are four types of cycles used in Paralympic Cycling:
– A tandem is used by athletes with visual impairment; the athlete sits on the back of the tandem with a sighted pilot at the front.

– A handcycle, as the name suggests, has pedals operated by hand. It has two wheels at the back and one at the front.

– A tricycle is normally used by athletes whose balance would make them unable to race on a two-wheeled bicycle.

– A bicycle is used by all other athletes, often with modifications.

Paralympic Track Cycling - Past & Present
The first Track Cycling races at the Paralympic Games took place at the Atlanta 1996 Games. At London 2012, when the programme will feature more medal events than at any previous Paralympic Games, the Track events will be held at the brand new Velodrome in the Olympic Park.

Jargon Buster-
Road Race: For the Road Races, all riders start together, and the first to cross the finish line wins gold.

- Time Trial: The Road Cycling Time Trials differ from the Road Races in that the riders set off at intervals, and the winner is the rider with the fastest time over the course.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Cycling Road


Where: Brands Hatch
When
: Wednesday 5th Sept – Saturday 8th Sept 2012
Medal Events: 32
Athletes: 225 - 155 men, 70 women (across Road and Track)

Paralympic Cycling was originally developed as a sport for blind athletes, who first competed using tandem bicycles. Technological advancements have since opened up the sport to a wider range of athletes; as a result, it is now the third largest sport on the Paralympic programme.

The Basics
The 50 medal events that make up the Paralympic Cycling competition feature athletes with a visual impairment, cerebral palsy, amputations or other physical disabilities competing on bicycles, tricycles, tandems and hand cycles.

At London 2012, there will be 32 Paralympic Road Cycling events, with the Road Races and Time Trials supplemented by the Team Relay.

At the Paralympic Games there will be 12 classes in Cycling. Tandem has one class, handcycle has four classes, tricycle has two classes and bicycle has five classes. The lower the athlete’s class number, the greater the impact of their impairment on their ability to cycle.

There are four types of cycles used in Paralympic Cycling:

– A tandem is used by athletes with visual impairment; the athlete sits on the back of the tandem with a sighted pilot at the front.

– A handcycle, as the name suggests, has pedals operated by hand. It has two wheels at the back and one at the front.

– A tricycle is normally used by athletes whose balance would make them unable to race on a two-wheeled bicycle.

– A bicycle is used by all other athletes, often with modifications.

Paralympic Road Cycling – Past & Present
Road Cycling was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 1984. At London 2012, the Paralympic Road Cycling will be held at Brands Hatch. Athletes will race in a series of events that should draw massive crowds.


Jargon Buster
Road Race: For the Road Races, all riders start together, and the first to cross the finish line wins gold.

Time Trial: The Road Cycling Time Trials differ from the Road Races in that the riders set off at intervals, and the winner is the rider with the fastest time over the course.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Monday, 3 October 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Boccia


Where: ExCeL

When
: Sunday 2nd Sept – Saturday 8th Sept 2012

Medal Events: 7

Athletes: 104

Believed to have Ancient Greek origins, Boccia is a tough test of nerve, tactics and skill. Played on a rectangular court by individuals, pairs and teams, the sport offers both tension and excitement, as athletes aim to land balls close to a target ball, across a series of demanding ends.

The Basics
The aim of the sport is to propel balls so they finish as close as possible to a special white target ball, known as the ‘jack’. Each player, pair or team gets six balls on each end. At the close of each end, the athlete, pair or team whose ball is closest to the jack scores one point, and receives an additional point for every ball that sits closer to the jack than the opposition’s closest ball. Individual and pairs matches consist of four ends, while team events are held over six ends.

Boccia is played by wheelchair athletes with cerebral palsy and related locomotor conditions, with players required to be in a seated position within a throwing box at one end of the playing court. The classification system ensures an even playing field for athletes to compete against others with similar disabilities.

There are four classes in total. BC1 class athletes may have an assistant to perform actions such as handing them the boccia balls, BC2 class athletes require no assistance on court and BC3 class athletes deliver each ball by using a ramp and have a sports assistant who they instruct to position the ramp for each delivery. BC4 athletes often use an underhand pendulum swing to release the ball.

Paralympics Boccia – Past & Present
Boccia was introduced to the Paralympic programme at the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Games. Today, there are seven medal events on the programme, all of which are open to athletes of either gender. The sport is currently played competitively in more than 50 countries worldwide.

For London 2012, the Boccia competition will be held at ExCeL, a multi-purpose events venue that will also host a number of other Paralympic and Olympic sports.

Jargon Buster
Court: The playing area, measuring 12.5m x 6m.

End: A passage of play that features six balls per athlete, pair or team.

Jack: The white target ball; competitors aim to land their balls as close to the jack as possible.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Athletics


Where: Olympic Stadium (track and field events); The Mall (road events)
When: Friday 31 August – Sunday 9 September 2012
Medal Events: 170
Athletes: 1,100 (740 men, 360 women)

With 1,100 athletes competing for 170 gold medals, Athletics is the largest sport on the Paralympic programme. There are various different strands to the competition: track events, in distances from 100m to 5,000m; field events, which include the High Jump and Shot Put; and the Marathon, which is held on the roads. Some athletes compete in wheelchairs or throwing frames, others with prostheses, and others with the guidance of a sighted companion.

The Basics
Staged in the brand new Olympic Stadium, the track events will be held over distances ranging from 100m to 5000m. Track events may begin with heats, with the best athletes eventually qualifying for the finals.

The field events broadly fall into two categories. The list of throwing events includes Discus, Javelin, Shot Put and Club Throw, while the programme of jumping events includes High Jump, Long Jump and Triple Jump.

The men’s and women’s Marathons will be held on the streets of central London on the 9 September, and will be straight finals.

As well as having the largest number of events and athletes at the Games, Athletics also has the largest number of classes. Each athlete is given a two-digit number: the first digit indicates the nature of the athlete’s impairment while the second indicates the amount of functional ability the athlete has. The lower the number, the greater the impact that the athlete’s impairment has on his or her ability to compete.
• Classes 11-13 are for athletes with visual impairment.
• Class 20 is for athletes with an intellectual impairment.
• Classes 31-38 are for athletes with Cerebral Palsy, with classes 31 to 34 using a wheelchair to compete.
• Classes 40-46 are for athletes with a loss of limb or limb deficiency.
• Classes 51-58 cover wheelchair racers or field athletes who throw from a seated position.
A ‘T’ or an ‘F’ before each two-digit number shows whether the athlete is competing on the track or in the field.

Paralympics Athletics - Past & Present
Part of the Paralympic programme since the first Games in Rome in 1960, the sport of Athletics has produced some of the most iconic images in the history of the Paralympic movement, with legendary figures such as Louise Sauvage, Baroness Grey-Thompson and Oscar Pistorius making their names before a worldwide audience.

For London 2012, all track and field events will be held at the Olympic Stadium in the new Olympic Park. This state-of-the-art venue, which will have a capacity of 80,000 during the Games, will also host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Jargon Buster
Cage: The area from which competitors throw a discus or club. The mouth of the cage is 6m wide, and sits 7m in front of the centre of the throwing circle.

Countback: The process used to determine the winner of any field event in which two or more athletes are tied.

Guide runner: Visually impaired runners use a guide runner, usually someone from their own country, to assist them in completing the course of a race safely and as quickly as possible by running alongside them during the race and ‘guiding’ them to stay in their lane.

Lifting: When throwing from a throwing frame, seated athletes sometimes finish in a standing position before releasing the implement. This is called ‘lifting’, and is against the rules if the athlete doesn’t have a foot on the ground.

Points score: In field events that are contested by athletes from different classification groups, a points score will be used to determine the winners.



Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Paralympic Games 2012 - Archery


Where: The Royal Artillery Barracks
When: Thursday 30 Aug – Wednesday 5 Sept 2012
Medal Events: 9
Athletes: 140 (88 men, 52 women)

Although Paralympic Archery was originally developed as a means of rehabilitation and recreation for people with a physical disability, it rapidly evolved into a competitive sport.

At London 2012, athletes will compete in three classes: Standing (ST), Wheelchair 1 (W1) and Wheelchair 2 (W2), with W2 athletes’ impairments having less of an impact on their ability to compete at Archery than a W1 athlete. There are medal events for both the Compound and Recurve bow as well for individuals and teams.

The Basics
The object of the sport is simple: to shoot arrows as close to the centre of a target as possible. Paralympic Archery targets are 122 centimetres in diameter, with the gold ring at the centre (worth a maximum 10 points) measuring just 12.2cm. Archers shoot at the target from a distance of 70 metres.

At the Paralympic Games, the individual competitions will be played in a knockout format. Matches will be played over the best of five sets, with each set consisting of three arrows per archer. The winners of each match will qualify for the next round, until the last two archers go head to head in the gold medal match. A knockout format will also be used for the men’s and women’s team competitions, which features teams of three archers competing against each other in a best-of-24-arrows format.

Paralympic Archery – Past & Present
No sport has as great a Paralympic history as Archery. It featured at the first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, the direct precursor to the Paralympic Games, and has featured on every Paralympic programme since the first Games in 1960.
At London 2012, the Paralympic Archery competition will be held at a truly historic venue: The Royal Artillery Barracks. Its rich heritage dates back to 1716, when a Royal Warrant authorised the formation of two artillery companies at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. The current building was constructed between 1775 and 1802.

Jargon Buster
Boss: The target, usually a square black block made of compacted foam, to which the target face is attached.
Bowman: An archer.
Draw: The act of pulling back the bow string in preparation for shooting.
Nock: A notch at the end of an arrow that rests against the bow string.


Courtesy of http://www.london2012.com

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The History of the Paralympic Games



We all know that the Paralympic Games takes place in conjunction with the Olympic Games but what is the true history of the Games and how have they developed over the years to become the international multi-sport event that they now are?

The first organized athletic event for disabled athletes was really a small gathering of British World War II veterans. On the opening day of 1948 Olympic Games, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital hosted a sports competition for the war veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. These first games were called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games. Dr. Guttman's aim was to create an elite sports competition for people with disabilities that would be equivalent to the Olympic Games. The Games were held again at the same location in 1952, and Dutch veterans took part alongside the British, making it the first international competition of its kind. These early competitions were known as the Stoke Mandeville Games and were the starting point of the international Paralympics Games that we see today.

The Paralympics Games has changed somewhat since that time and it was in Rome in 1960 that we first saw Games that were open for all athletes and not just war veterans - 400 athletes from 23 countries competed. However, the Games remained limited to those athletes in wheelchairs. It was not until the Summer Games in 1976 that the Games became open to all disabled athletes and this impacted on the number of participants with 1600 athletes from 40 countries.

In 1988, for the first time, the Summer Paralympic Games were held directly after the Olympic Summer Games and used the same host city, Seoul in South Korea, and the same sporting facilities. These Paralympics Games continued in 1992 and 1996. Finally, in 2001 an agreement between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was reached that safeguarded all future Paralympics Games.

The development of the Winter Games was slightly slower than that of the Summer Games and it was not until 1976 that we saw the first Winter Paralympic Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The Winter Games were celebrated every four years on the same year as their summer counterpart, just as the Olympics were. This tradition was upheld until the 1992 Games in Albertville, France; after that, beginning with the 1994 Games, the Winter Paralympics and the Winter Olympics have been held in those even numbered years separate from the Summer Games.

As we look forward to the Paralympic Games 2012 we must salute the development of the Games from their humble beginnings to the truly international event that they have now become recognised the world over. The Summer Paralympic Games has increased from 400 athletes in Rome in 1960 to over 3,900 athletes from 146 countries in Beijing in 2008 highlighting the elite disabled athletes from all over the globe.

We have many events to look forward to in next year’s Summer Paralympic Games 2012 and over the next few weeks I will be exploring each in more detail and I look forward to sharing with you the facts and intricate rules that make each event unique.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Paralympic Games


So the ticketing process for the Paralympics Games 2012 is now underway – I have submitted my choices and wait with bated breath to see if (a) I have been successful in securing some and (b) if so, for which events!

It is hoped that by using the same ticketing process as London Olympics 2012, the events will be a sell-out – the first time in their history. Increased television coverage (which in the past has been fairly lacklustre and made the event seem like an also-ran) will also bring the Paralympics Games 2012 to a much wider audience. But what do we truly know about the Paralympics Games? What events are included and more importantly what are the rules?

Over the coming weeks, I will be looking at the history of the Games, the individual events in detail and maybe one or two more unusual facts. After all, did you know that the last time the Paralympics were held in Britain was in 1984? Yes, that’s right the VII Summer Paralympics were held in both Europe and North America. After much wrangling about the event, it was decided that the American National Wheelchair Athletic Association (NWAA), an affiliated organization to the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF), would hold its own Games for wheelchair athletes at a separate venue. As a result, the other three disability groups combined their efforts and chose New York as their Games venue. Amputee and les autres athletes, cerebral palsy athletes and visually impaired athletes competed in New York, USA, while athletes with spinal cord disabilities competed in Stoke Mandeville, right here in England.

The Games in Stoke Mandeville were held from 22 July to 1 August. The British Paraplegic Sports Society (BPSS) organized the Games at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium and more than 1,100 athletes from 41 countries competed in 14 events.

I do hope that as we look forward to next Summer you will join me in my journey to understand the Paralympics Games 2012 more.

Come back soon when I will be looking into the history of the Paralympics Games in more detail.............

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Reform is needed for improved employment!















I have a keen interest in employment opportunities for disabled people so am encouraged by the recent consultations regarding how as a society we can move forward with increasing employment choice for disabled people. For far too long there has been a preconceived notion that disabled people cannot work and do not want to work. I have been further exasperated by the idea that disabled people are happy to fulfill mundane or menial roles. Yes some disabled people do want these roles but there are far more of us that want meaningful employment and career development.

Even worse, disabled people should not be used as some sort of “trophy” to employers. Yes it does happen! Daniel Biddle is a 7/7 survivor – his employers kept a position open for him but not the same role. He returned to work but found it difficult not to be in the same role and therefore decided to seek alternative employment. Daniel took on a number of positions but was unhappy with the amount of emphasis some employers put on him firstly being a 7/7 survivor and secondly being disabled. Fortunately, he is now employed with an organisation that is more interested in his skills and personal qualities.

Speaking at a meeting with Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, he said: “After the bombing I realised it wasn't the end of my life. I can still do the same as everyone else in my job and travel round the country visiting clients.

“There are real benefits of employing disabled people. We are good at problem solving skills, as we overcome different challenges in our everyday lives.

“I think the idea that disabled people are only capable of menial work is an outdated post-WWII view of disability. Why should we just do menial work because we are disabled when we are capable of so much more?”

It is interesting to note that at the current rate of progress it will be 2070 before the employment rate of disabled people catches up with that for non-disabled people. Disabled people's employment has crept up slowly – from 41% in 1998 to 47% in 2010. There are currently over 3 million disabled people in paid work but what about the 53% that are not?

Liz Sayce, chief executive of disability charity, Radar, has said that “a personalised approach to employment support be extended to disabled people, rather than subsidising separate work places. If the government implements my recommendations to support disabled people to "get in, stay in and get on" in employment, it would make a significant difference.

Disabled people's aspirations have changed. We want the opportunity to work in every sector from hairdressing to engineering, to "get in" through apprenticeships and work experience, and to "get on": progress in our careers and set up our own enterprises. We want to contribute to the economy. The only adjustment most of us need is a fair chance, or low cost flexibilities (such as not travelling in rush hour) – but some need support, extra training or equipment. The support must focus on the person so we can move from job to job and take our support with us”

I agree with Liz but reform in the broadest sense must take place to push forward this ideal. The Access to Work Scheme needs to be addressed. It needs to be publicized more broadly so that both disabled employees and potential employers are aware of the support that is available. There needs to be a more holistic approach to how the funding is allocated. Benchmarking everyone the same does not work and therefore Access to Work needs to focus more on the individual and their specific requirements. It should be easier to move your support with you should you change your employment. The uncertainty of whether the Access to Work Support will continue often results in disabled people being unconfident about seeking alternative employment opportunities.

Disabled people want to work – they recognise the value of being part of the working society and like all people they have personal aspirations. For us as a society to see better employment and career opportunities for disabled people, reform is imperative and must be something that is addressed sooner rather than later for us to see a serious improvement of employment rates of disabled people.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Disabled People in Politics


I was not surprised recently to read that the number of disabled people in politics is extremely low and this does need to be addressed if we are to have a clear and true voice within our political system. I am sure that if you were to ask the everyday man in the street to name a disabled politician their answer would be either David Blunkett or Gordon Brown.

Why are so few disabled people actively involved in politics?

On current figures, the House of Commons would need to have at least 65 disabled elected representatives to truly reflect our society. However, those standing for election in local or national elections do not have an obligation to disclose a disability.

In research conducted by University of Plymouth and its elections centre, surveys in 2008 and 2009 showed very low numbers of disabled people – it even dropped in 2009! Their research showed that in 2008 out of 1,000 local election candidates only 2.8% described themselves as “permanently sick or disabled. This figure reduced in 2009 to just 1.3%.

Is it possible for disabled people to be included more within our political system? And if so, how?

Well at last the Government are looking to change this and have implemented The Access to Elected Office for Disabled People project which includes plans for a £1m fund to help disabled politicians meet costs. All political parties will be encouraged to improve their disability policies and to work closely with the Local Government Association, and disabled organisations to develop a cross-party network of disabled councillors and MPs. It is hoped that these will become role models for aspiring candidates.

David Blunkett has said "Obstacles arise out of fear or ignorance of disability, people not knowing what is possible or how best to help," he says, "with occasional paternalistic blips where individuals have been disquieted by the thought that someone with a major challenge could work not just on equal terms, but succeed in the same professional sphere that they are in. Much of this is covert rather than overt."

Lady Jane Campbell, a wheelchair user, says we need more imaginative ideas for overcoming problems. "Many disabled people would want to get out on the street and knock on doors and canvass but, for some, like me, it would be impossible. It might be that we find other ways of engaging the public." She further states “If you can change hundreds of years of tradition you can do anything, and we do need to change to include disabled people because it's not a democracy if we don't."

There is no doubt that disabled people need to be more engaged in our political system but the reality is that there is no short-term solution. Prejudices still exist largely within our society and until these fundamental attitudes are changed than the voters will just not be there in large enough numbers to make real differences.

So let’s get our message across – we want involvement, we can have involvement, we just need to make it happen!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Hardest Hit March & Lobby


Yesterday saw more than 8000 disabled people take part in the Hardest Hit March & Lobby. A direct demonstration against the Coalition austerity cuts that will affect disabled people far more harshly than any other group in our society. The message was clear – the proposed cuts are unjust and will take away real independence from many of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

The March was organised by the UK Disabled People's Council and the Disability Benefits Consortium, and was supported by many disability organisations including Mind, Mencap , RNIB and Sense.

Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of the charity Scope, said that he hoped the march would give disabled people a sense that they were not alone - "We know there's a deficit, but government has said we're in it together. Taking away the DLA mobility allowance for people in residential care, which means that they can't go out, is not a sign that we are all in it together."

In comparison to recent demonstrations, the turnout might have seemed quite low but we need to remember the barriers faced by all those that did attend; inaccessible transport links, practicalities of health issues and, more importantly, the high cost of rail travel for those dependent on disability benefits.

The March brought a uniqueness to demonstrating – there was no angry clashes, no fire-bombing or vandalism of prominent buildings and no reported arrests. Just a dignified showing of opposition to the proposed cuts.

The steady stream of wheelchairs users moving alongside cane users and other disabled people supported by their families, friends and carers with innovative placards in Braille held aloft and sign-language chants highlighted the real challenges disabled people face every day.

Let’s hope that the politicians take note of the concerns raised and address the real issue - "act now to make sure that disabled people are not the Hardest Hit”.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Hardest Hit March & Lobby - 11 May 2011


On Wednesday of this week (11th March 2011), thousands of disabled people will be demonstrating at Westminster and Parliament to express solidarity and anger at the cuts threatening benefits, services, jobs and rights.

This demonstration is widely supported by many disabled groups and organisations and is being overseen by the UK Council of Disabled People, the Disability Benefits Consortium and the Disability Charities Consortium.

The march will begin on Victoria Embankment between Horseguards Avenue and Bridge Street and will assemble at 11.30am. There will be a rally on Victoria Embankment with speeches between 12 noon and 12.30pm before the march sets off. The march will then begin at 12.30pm taking in Victoria Embankment, Parliament Square and Millbank and will finish in Dean Stanley Street.

Following the march the group will be lobbying MPs as the Welfare Reform Bill reaches its critical stage in the House of Commons. The aim is to make sure that Parliamentarians understand the combined impact of the cuts on the lives and futures of disabled people.

Crucially, they will be asking MPs to challenge policies that will push disabled people further into poverty and isolation. The lobby will take place in Westminster Hall and Methodist Central Hall between 1.30pm and 5.30pm.

I fully support this demonstration and hope that the policymakers not only listen to, but actively embrace, the true concerns of disabled people.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Disabled Children let down by NHS


Disabled children across the UK are being left in pain and the need for operations due to ill-fitting wheelchairs and the excessive waits experienced within the NHS. Many children have to wait for over a year for a new wheelchair whilst undergoing an average of 32 assessments. Those in East Lancashire have to wait an average of two years – the longest in the UK – for specialist electric wheelchairs.

At present there are 70,000 disabled children in the UK waiting for wheelchairs and the NHS currently only provides the most basic models due to lack of resources. Many parents are being forced to look away from the NHS in order to meet the needs of their children. Many rely on charities, who’s funds are being stretched to the fullest, whilst others take out huge loans to buy the correct equipment themselves.

A report by Whizz-Kidz and Barnados recommends that the Government should:-

* End the "postcode lottery" of wheelchair provision for children
* Make sure that the forthcoming spending review specifically addresses the issue of wheelchairs for children
* Establish and enforce a set of standards for wheelchair provision
* Work with partners to commission services more strategically
* Act on the recommendations contained in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Report -Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People - to provide disabled children and their families with appropriate equipment without undue delay

The Department of Health says its 2004 10-year plan for child health services advocated designing and delivering services around the needs of children.

"The plan includes a chapter devoted to children with disabilities and stresses the Primary Care Trusts need to consider a child's needs and their future development when deciding what equipment they provide," a spokesperson said.

"We expect health, social and educational services to meet the core standards in the plan and offer the best possible solutions for all children by 2014."

As a wheelchair user I know from experience that an ill-fitting wheelchair impacts greatly on your day-to-day life. Living in constant pain and losing your independence is intolerable. However, the right wheelchair can transform your life; providing you with greater mobility, more independence and greater self-confidence.

Provision of a wheelchair should not be detrimental to the health and well-being of anyone especially children. Early intervention is paramount to how a child goes on to live their life. This outrageous situation needs to be addressed now and the bureaucracy and red-tape should be lifted to ensure that our children have the proper care they rightly deserve.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Can you afford to be ill if you live in England?


From 1st April 2011 the cost of prescriptions in England will rise by 20 pence to £7.40 per item! Whilst on the same day, Scotland will scrap all prescription charges to fall in line with Wales and Northern Ireland which already see free prescriptions.

Can this be fair to those living in England?

Surely as a nation, all prescription charges within the UK should be standard for all. Why do we have this postcode lottery whereby you can only truly afford to be ill if you live in certain areas of the country? Why should one area pay for the luxury of all other areas to be exempt from charges?

This can only be seen as inequality within our NHS service.

The Department of Health said removing charges in England would cost too much. A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: "The extensive exemption arrangements we have in place mean that in England, around 90% of prescription items are already dispensed free of charge.

"The price of the 12 month prescription pre-payment certificate will be frozen for the second year running. This allows people to get all the prescriptions they need for an average cost of £2 per week.

The government went on to say that the NHS would be left with a shortfall of more than £450m per year if prescription charges were removed altogether in England.
"This is valuable income - equivalent to the salary costs of nearly 18,000 nurses, or 15,000 midwives, or over 3,500 hospital consultants. This income helps the NHS to maintain vital services for patients," the Department of Health said.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA Council, which has been asking the government to abolish prescription charges, said: "Patients in England have to pay, while those in Wales and Northern Ireland do not. From 1 April Scotland will completely scrap its charges, a move that further exaggerates the absurd postcode lottery that exists in the UK".

"The bureaucracy needed to administer prescription charges is cumbersome, many of the exemptions are confusing and unfair. Patients with disabling long-term conditions still have to pay them despite a recent report recommending they be phased out."

Dr Meldrum added that the principle of charging for prescriptions runs counter to the founding principle of an NHS that is free at the point of use.

"The BMA understands that we live in financially difficult times, but this is a tax on the sick that contributes only a modest amount to the NHS budget and does not offset the unfair disadvantage of asking the ill to pay for their medicine," he said.

I personally think it is ridiculous that we have a system which discriminates on the grounds of where you happen to live!

There are two fair systems for these charges; all prescriptions are free or the cost is reduced and levied equally across the whole of the UK.

I know which option I support..................

Friday, 11 February 2011

Cuts to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - Outrageous


It is well known that Government and political parties like to “hide away” bad news in the hope that little will find its way into the wider spectrum of reporting. So it was therefore not surprising that the Coalition Government announced proposed changes to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in a similar fashion.

Hidden away on page 69 of the comprehensive spending review in October 2010 was the announcement that the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) would be removed from people living in residential care. During his explanation to Parliament, George Osborne omitted to explain this benefit reduction and it has slipped under the radar of most of the media who have been far more interested in the other spending cuts announced. Therefore, in our world of “who shouts loudest is likely to be heard”, it remains a much hidden element of the public spending cuts. For those unconnected with disabled people, it will seem irrelevant and unimportant but for those disabled people it will impact on, it will have drastic affects. It could fundamentally revert our care system back to the dark ages of institionalisation. Scaremongering – I think not.

The DLA mobility component allows disabled people in residential homes to meet some of the extra costs incurred when they travel – be it to see family, friends or just a trip to the theatre. The government proposal to cut this element for those who are living in residential care will affect in the region of 60,000 to 80,000 disabled people taking away some of their independence. It is therefore hard to believe that during the election process both David Cameron and George Osborne were keen to assure the public that the most vulnerable people in our society would not be affected by potential benefit cuts.

The government has stated that this allowance will be removed in October 2012. Their explanation is simply that they believe that it is a duplication of funds already allocated by local authorities to fund transport needs. Their shortsightedness does not reflect the fact that funding to local authorities is also being cut and therefore funds are already being stripped to the bare minimum.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of Scope, has called the decision "callous" and has questioned its fairness. "Disabled people and their families do not have 'broad shoulders', so why are they bearing the brunt of these cuts?" he asked.

In a statement, the Department for Work and Pensions said: "Currently some people in residential care receive support for their mobility needs through disability living allowance and mobility support funded by their local authority. We want to remove that duplication and make sure that the system is fair. These changes won't come into effect until October 2012 and we will continue to work with disabled people and organisations to ensure benefits meet the needs of disabled people. The government expects that the cut will save £135m a year by 2014-15."

In the scheme of things, this saving to the Government is a small drip from a tap but the affects are like a tidal wave. For those affected, this removal will reduce their independence and quality of life – a significant change for those already marginalised by society as a whole.

I, like many other disabled people and disability charities, can only urge the Government to rethink this proposal. This is definitely a cut too far for many and I suspect will remain under the radar for many people until it is too late. Now is the time for the shout of disabled people to be heard above the crowd.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Reality TV – Does it fuel prejudice and inequality?



Television is a major part of all our lives and can both entertain and educate but are we seeing an increase in negativity?

I have written before about the manner in which disabled people are often portrayed and the lack of disabled presenters on our mainstream television. There has been positive changes in this with the introduction of more disabled characters in our soaps and I hope this will continue particularly with the news this week that Channel 4 is well on its way to selecting its presenters for The London Paralympics 2012 – all of which will be disabled. However, I am becoming particularly concerned about the number of reality TV programmes there are on our screens and the way they portray people. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying for one moment that they should all be banned but I like television and I know what genres of programmes I enjoy and tend to steer clear of those that I know will probably not interest me and many of the reality TV programmes fall into that category. My main issue is the manner in which they edit themselves. Yes I know they want to be entertaining but it would appear that the producers of these shows feel that the only way to achieve that is to shock us with the extremes. There is no doubt that reality TV is big business at the moment but are the way they portraying people creating a negativity that could increase prejudice and inequality? I believe so.

On many occasions, these programmes appear to be full of misconceptions and biased editing to only show the extremes. Take for instance “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” – for many this is highly entertaining offering a level of hilarity and horror. The promotion of the programme has led us to believe that we will learn something about the traditions of the “Gypsy” community. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that they are misleading the viewing public and in turn fuelling a unwarranted prejudice.

Historically, there has been a long standing discrimination against “Gypsy” communities and, like many minority groups, everyone is lumped under one umbrella. The producers of this programme could have taken a very different route and allowed the viewers a true insight in the lives and traditions of these communities thereby educating us more and dispelling the myths. However, for “entertainment” value they chose to do otherwise.

Little has truly been learned about these communities. The very title of the programme is misleading. To date, they have failed to distinguish between two very different groups namely Romany Gypsys and Irish Travellers. So far, they have solely concentrated on Irish Travellers. Why is this important I hear you cry? Fundamentally, they are two different groups of people with different traditions and customs. Imagine if you will an ice-cream and sorbet – yes there are similarities but they are unique in their own way.

It is a shame that the programme has yet to show the true differences and so far neither culture has been seen in a positive light. It is my opinion that the programme has achieved nothing except put up even more barriers between these cultures and our own. What you see on television is the extremes of a travelling community and a media hype at its very worse.

History, traditions and values of all communities can be beautiful, respectful and interesting. It is a shame that the producers feel that this would not make “good” television.

It would be terribly naive of us all to judge on this programme format alone and allow an irresponsible representation of any group be our sole educator. Prejudice is born from ignorance and unfortunately reality TV does little to remove this. Producers have to start taking responsibility for their programme making otherwise we will see steps backwards instead of forward in our search for true equality for all.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Equality within my Borough (Part 3)

Have you faced discrimination within the London Borough of Sutton and if so, what were the circumstances?

I believe that in everyone’s life education is paramount and is the most important starting block for life’s journey. Changes have taken place within the Borough and I would hope that a similar scenario would no longer take place. My own experience was based around my secondary school education. At the age of 14 years, my school in Sutton took the decision that it was no longer viable for me to continue my education with them and steps were taken to transfer me to a “special school” in Kingston. I do not want this and with the backing of my parents, I was able to appeal against this decision and continued my education at my mainstream secondary school. This situation arose purely by my London Borough of Sutton school not recognising the minor changes that needed to be implemented i.e. ensuring that all my classes were on the ground level etc. It was almost as if myself and my parents had to educate my educators!

Another way in which I have experienced discrimination is within the workplace and I truly believe that this still exists today and that the London Borough of Sutton should be doing more to educate and advise employers within the borough. As I entered the world of employment, I applied for many positions both locally and throughout London. I was rejected time and time again often with the organisations giving me feeble excuses by way of an explanation but it was very clear to me that these decisions were taken due to my disability and amounted to indirect discrimination. At the time, laws were not in place that allowed me to challenge this and today it is a very different story. However, there still exists within the London Borough of Sutton the opportunity for disabled people to engage in “meaningful” employment mainly due to lack of understanding and knowledge of the true access requirements of disabled people. I do feel that not only the London Borough of Sutton but also London as a whole should be addressing this.

Do you live your life in a way that others may consider as different?

My initial response would be “no” – I live, work and socialise just like everyone else. However, on reflection I suppose the true answer would be “yes”. I do live life just like everyone else but the manner in which I do it is somewhat different. I do not think of this as being different merely as a change in the way of working or accomplishing things. These so called differences are purely my uniqueness just like someone picking up the telephone and calling a friend – I would rather grab my phone and text instead which is actually more in line with the youth of today!