Celebrating Disability Pride

July 11, 2022
Disability Pride Month

It was great to celebrate the continuing positive shift in society both on and off the pitch in our A Celebration of Pride blog post last month. Now that we are firmly into July, it’s not only the month for great weather (allegedly) and top sporting events, such as Rugby union summer internationals and UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 to name just a few, but it’s also Disability Pride Month.

The awareness and participation in June for Pride Month has been, and continues to be, absolutely fantastic. Here at PlayerData we hope that this can also be true for Disability Pride Month. From its Boston origins in 1990, Disability Pride has since grown to become an international celebration every July.

The aim of Disability Pride is to promote inclusion, awareness, and visibility of people with disabilities, and redefine public perception of disability. The goal is to nurture the accepting and honouring of each person's uniqueness, and see it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.

Disability Pride Flag 2022

Sadly, it is not widely known that Disability Pride has had its own flag for the past 5 years now, with the design being refreshed only recently in October 2021 by Ann Magill, a disabled woman, with feedback from the disabled community to refine its visual elements:

The Black Field: A colour of mourning and rage; for those who are victims of Ableist violence, and also rebellion and protest

The Five Colours: The variety of needs and experiences (invisible and undiagnosed disabilities, physical disabilities, neurodivergence, psychiatric disabilities, sensory disabilities)

The Parallel Stripes: Solidarity within the Disability Community and all its differences

The Diagonal Band: “Cutting across” barriers that separate disabled people; creativity and light cutting through the darkness

Disability Pride provides an opportunity to end misconceived stigmas and instead promote disability as a positive identity, a strength, and to encourage the positive pride that this should evoke.

It is fantastic to see how Disability Pride continues to be celebrated through global sporting events such as the Paralympics, and the fully integrated para-sport programme at the Commonwealth Games, which we look forward to in Birmingham later this month.

As recently as just last month, athletes have been making the news shattering FOUR world records at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Paris.

  • Paralympic and world champion Ayoub Sadni completed the men’s 400 metres T47 in 47.01 seconds, beating his previous record.
  • Fleur Jong won gold in the women’s 100m recording 12.56 seconds to break T62 world record for the race in the process.
  • Martina Caironi secured long jump gold in the T63 classification with a world record distance of 5.46m.
  • Luca Ekler also set a world record in the long jump, springing 5.82m in the T38 classification to beat her previous record by a comfortable 6cm.

PlayerData spoke with Washington Deaf FC Head Coach, Stuart Denmead, on the positive impact that competitive sport has on disabled athletes:

Washington Deaf FC Head Coach, Stuart Denmead
"Competing in the England Deaf League has been fantastic for providing talented players the opportunity to hone and showcase their skills and of course fuel their passion for the game. The support at our home and away games is fantastic and it really motivates the team to be the best they can be, both on and off the pitch."

It has also been great to see the FA showing their support for making football more inclusive with the announcement last October of their new 3 year initiative Football Your Way, where their goal is to help develop, improve and raise awareness of Disability Football in England.

There are 11.5 million disabled people in England, accounting for 21% of the total population - that’s 1 in 5 people.  Football Your Way provides the opportunity to bridge the gap through creating and sustaining a culture across the sport, from grassroots through to the top tier, where disabled people have access to all opportunities and feel they truly belong, both on and off the pitch.

Speaking on the impact of Disability Football, England international and Merseyside VIFC Blind footballer, Azeem Amir said:

"Being able to play football at a high level with other disabled players has been an amazing opportunity for me. Football has made a significant difference to my life and to the lives of those I play with at every level. I hope the FA’s new plan, Football Your Way, can help raise awareness of disability football and provide significant opportunities to inspire people to play the game, from kids who are giving it a go for the first time, to fellow internationals on the world stage."

The great news is there are many initiatives and support groups throughout the UK to help make sport more accessible and inclusive for everyone. A great starting point to discover what support and funding is available for your team / sport are sites such as Disability Grants and Toyota Parasport Fund.

We hope that you join in the celebrations this month and are proud to share your support for Disability Pride. We can all do our bit to help increase awareness and open up the view of a wider society that encourages and celebrates the great uniqueness and achievements of everyone. A great place to start is by speaking with disabled athletes of all levels and be open about learning, how better to get a true insight than directly from our fellow athletes. 

If you’d like to find out more about Disability Pride, Samantha Renke, actor, presenter and disability rights campaigner wrote an interesting article just last year about her experiences and thoughts on the month-long celebration.

Written by Kevin McCool

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