Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspiration that was the Paralympics

by Aileen Kennedy

Whilst I knew that the Olympics would be fascinating to watch, I certainly wasn’t disappointed in the sport. I’m not a sporty girl, unless it has an engine and can go above 100mph.  Usually a couple of hours are all I can usually muster to watch any other sport, and if it’s on daily then I lose interest real easily. During the Olympics I was selective on the sports I watched. So I thought when the Paralympics came around that I might give channel 4 a passing glance, as I would be sported out by then. I was wrong, whilst the constant breaks were annoying as hell. I found myself fascinated by some of the sports, wheelchair rugby aka murderball, the visually impaired long jump, wheelchair racing, and even wheelchair tennis. Now don’t get me wrong, all the athletes are absolutely fantastic at what they do, I for one certainly couldn’t do it. It certainly showed off their ability.
So what does the Paralympics have to do with writing? Can you name me one book, which has a disabled lead character? No, didn’t think so.
Now there are children’s books, but nothing in young adults, new adults, or even adult reading books, without having to really dig for any, and I mean really dig. Why is this? Without looking into details, I can’t say the percentage of the world-disabled population. But I would have thought that a writer somewhere would have written a disabled character as a main character. Ok so there’s Bran in A Game of Thrones, and as I haven’t finished reading it I can’t say where George R Martin is leading with him. But Bran does seem to be taking a backstage in the epic novel so far, but he is not the main or the lead character in the book, just someone in the setting. Am I lead to believe that in the 21st Century, the disabled community is still being overlooked, surely these people will have fantastic stories that could be used as a plot line. Are we as a 21st Century society still hold that much ignorance of disability that we look down our noses at them? I would hate for that to be true.
So just where am I going with this? Whilst it can’t take one person to change the views of millions of people, and there are many ignorant people, who are unwilling to change in this world. The media does have a part to play; just look at the amount of coverage Channel 4 has given to the Paralympics. It’s been rumoured that the BBC wasn’t going to show half the amount that Channel 4 had planned when they put their bid in, and they’ve even upped the coverage after a couple of days. It seems a lot of people are interested in disabled sports.  So why aren’t there any leading disabled characters. Surely a writer can come up with a fantastic story, which can help change the view of one person.
I have to hold my hands up to say that out of all the rough stories I’ve written I haven’t written a character which has a disability, but then I could say that the stories themselves never called for one. But I doubt that is a good enough excuse; surely one can fit in somewhere and have a leading part. Hopefully now that I’ve realised this, I can place somewhere or write a story around a character. It would be nice.
Anyway that’s my small rant over with. Regardless of my opinions the Paralympics were exceptional show of sportsmanship, which showed off everyone’s abilities at the highest level. I for one will be keeping my eye out for Rio’s paralympics, and nation-wide disabled sports. As I’ve certainly enjoyed these Paralympics, alongside the Olympics. Even if I did get confused as hell regarding the different classifications, though I understand that it’s in place to ensure a level playing field.

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