Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson has used her maiden speech in the House of Lords to speak of her hope that the London 20102 Olympic and Paralympic Games will lead to “significant change” and inclusion for disabled people.
The disabled peer – who won 11 Paralympic athletics gold medals – was speaking in a debate on progress towards staging the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
Baroness Grey-Thompson, a crossbench peer, also hinted at some of the areas she might focus on in the Lords, with her speech mentioning inclusive education; increasing opportunities for girls and women; and access to physical activity for all children.
She told peers how her parents had “fought hard to get me into mainstream education – something that I strongly believe gave me the right platform on which to build my sporting career”.
She said the Paralympics had two messages: one about winning and the other about “spreading inclusion and change”, and pointed to how the Paralympics had improved “social provision” for disabled people in China, while sport continues to “challenge attitudes towards disabled people”.
She said “unprecedented” numbers of disabled people were applying for jobs with LOCOG – the 2012 organising committee – because of “its passion for diversity and inclusion”, with LOCOG now becoming “one of the most attractive employers of choice for disabled people”.
She called for young people to have access to physical activity in and outside school, and for disabled children to “have the right and the opportunity to be included”.
She also said that girls should be enabled to “find the right environment in which to develop their skills to allow them to compete in the wider world”, and added: “We know that currently women are employed in only one in five of the top jobs in sport.
“To be a successful nation, not just in sport but in business, we should challenge that, because sport is a microcosm of society.”
She added: “We all need to grasp the opportunity of the Games being on home soil to inspire our nation to think differently and to include every part of our great nation.”
16 June 2010