30 August 2012
Paralympics show "everyone is equal"
With the huge celebration of diversity and accomplishment that was the 2012 Olympics over, the beginning of the Paralympics has succeed in uniting us all once again in the knowledge of human equality.
Despite fears that the Paralympics would seem secondary to the first of the Games, yesterday's opening ceremony was received with enthusiasm by spectators and commentators alike and the event is being celebrated more than ever before.
This may have been due to the stunning fireworks and acrobatics, appearances by Stephen Hawking and Sir Ian McKellen, the huge sculpture, or the representation of various countries in their athletes’ colourful outfits.
However, the consensus was that it was more than just a good show.
The Paralympics, even moreso than the Olympics, serve as a beautiful reminder of both our successes and our continued struggle for true equality.
At Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the original birthplace of the Paralympics, another celebration was going on at the opening night community festival; a free event organised by the 14 local churches in the Aylesbury Church Network.
The event showed the inescapable message of the Paralympics spreading throughout the community, as - after the rain cleared up - people of all abilities joined in with games, inflatables, human table-top football, arts and crafts, face-painting, a free barbecue and could watch a big screen showing of the opening ceremony.
Lynn Watts, one of the volunteers who helped run the community festival, said: “I saw a partially-sighted man, led by his wife, walk across the sensory path we created of grass, sand and pebbles. It was truly magical to see the expression on his face.”
When speaking to the crowd attending the event, Marty Woods of More Than Gold explained the Christian message which is so well demonstrated by the festival and the Paralympics themselves. “The great thing about this event is that everyone is equal," he said. "Everyone has something to offer, no matter what their ability or disability. Everyone is important.”
Last night’s ceremony made an unmistakable challenge for us to seek equality; a challenge which is being met and will continue to be met by the Church, with the enthusiasm and creativity shown by those in Stoke Mandeville.