By Debbie Crickmore, retired Lecturer in Learning Disability Nursing from the University of Hull
A benefit of retirement is that every day I’m able to be outside, enjoying fresh air and having space to think. Like me, some of you may have seen the message – It’s rude not to stare – on posters at local bus shelters, drawing attention to (Channel 4) coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Whilst some commentators have expressed views on the appropriateness of the message, whether you enjoyed the recent Olympics (or not), I urge you to celebrate the achievement of Paralympians by increasing your understanding of physical, visual and intellectual challenges experienced by competitors, not least because they reflect some of those experienced by people you support as nursing students.
So, my Paralympic challenge to you might take the form of understanding that the prefix Para– refers to parallel (rather than paralysed or paraplegic, as physical attributes are not the only eligibility criteria). A quick look at What is Classification? on the International Paralympic Committee website is testament to this. Paralympic Games Classification on the Tokyo 2020 website identifies the range of medal events available – I was fascinated to watch footballers who are blind competing in 5-a-side competition. Having the field of learning disability nursing at the University of Hull, whilst you may be less familiar with the international term intellectual disability, watch out for track and field athletes, swimmers and table tennis players.
Hull Nursing Society’s Wellness Wednesday recognises the benefits of holistic health to all. Videos are available to explain the history of the Paralympics; you may also like to consider other forums including the Special Olympics movement and the more recently instigated Invictus Games Foundation. And to emphasise that every day’s a school day, in researching this I discovered the Deaflympics. I hope you will too and enjoy watching some Paralympic coverage 24 August – 5 September 2021.