Diversity and Disability

2015 IPC World Swimming Championships

IPC2015_(1)Glasgow hosted the IPC World Swimming Championship this year, (13 – 19 July). More than 580 swimmers from nearly 70 countries converged in Glasgow to compete over seven days of competition at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre. It the Para-Swimmer’s one of the biggest qualification opportunities ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

This was another fantastic opportunity for Glasgow to showcase Para-Sports at the elite level as the one year anniversary of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games approaches. Having been involved in the Para-Sports build-up towards Glasgow 2014, two years prior to the Commonwealth Games, staging the IPC World Swimming Championships was a catalyst for Glasgow to strengthen it reputation.

Glasgow also built on it formidable status as a host of international events, having hosted the 2013 Duel in the Pool and all six days of swimming at the Commonwealth Games.

Glasgow 2014 had accessibility, equality and inclusion as a core part of the Commonwealth Games function in relation to the Organising Committee. Tollcross underwent a major refurbishment in the lead up to Glasgow 2014 entwined with the sustainability and accessibility vision too. Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has left a legacy, the culture change, perceptions change and a sustainable legacy of inclusion and accessibility within society.

The IPC 2015 World Championships we saw established Paralympians go head-to-head in some of the most compelling rivalries in para-sport.  It was exhilarating, captivating and new talent blossom as the popularity of the Paralympics continues following the impressive rise of Para-Sport coverage since London 2012.

I was incredibly fortunate to be a flag-bearer for Uzbekistan at the 2015 IPC World Swimming Championships’s Opening Ceremony. It was a pleasure to work closely with the IPC’s media team and the Media Operations manager.

Over the last eight days, having been involved with the IPC’s Media hub in Glasgow, it brought me a new and another chapter of emergence of where I am going next!

Record year for Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award holders in Scotland

A record 1,253 young people will receive their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award this year over four ceremonies at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on the 2nd and 3rd of July.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will be in attendance on Thursday, 2nd July and HRH The Earl of Wessex will be in attendance on Friday, 3rd July.

Celebrities from the world of television, music, radio and sport will be joined by representatives from the Scottish Government to celebrate the achievements of these talented young people and present them with their Gold certificates. Presenters include Glasgow band Fatherson, comedian Des Clarke, Glasgow 2014 medallist Jennifer McIntosh and Acting Minister for Children and Young People Fiona McLeod MSP.

The young people have gone the extra mile, committing themselves to bettering themselves and their communities to achieve their Gold. Many, like 18 year old Sara Salloum, from Aberdeen, worked for over a year with additional support needs groups as part of their Volunteering section.

Sara said: “It was fantastic volunteering with the Saturday Fun Club at Hazelwood School for additional support needs children. As I volunteered at Hazlewood through Bronze and Gold DofE I built up a good relationship with some of the children I saw each week. They were all so sweet. It’s nice to just treat them like anyone else instead of branding them as their disability.

“It’s been really valuable to do my Gold Award. For the Skills section I did guitar and I’m going to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to study classical guitar and to do it as a career.”

Presenter Ms McLeod, Acting Minister for Children and Young People, said, “I am delighted to present the young people with their Gold Awards. The aspirations behind the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme fit well with key priorities for this Scottish Government, of participation, prosperity and fairness.

“Real participation means giving people opportunity to test themselves, to take responsibility, to make decisions, to solve issues for themselves and in their communities. These Awards clearly embody this approach and it’s one reason why we have been delighted to be able to support them. Not just because of the foundation role they play in enabling and encouraging young people’s participation but because their activity also plays a significant role in improving young people’s life chances and well-being. Well done to those receiving an award, and their families, for all their hard work and support.”

Presenter and Disabilities campaigner Julie McElroy, who herself is a Gold Award holder, said: “These young people have demonstrated the resilience and tenacity to work hard to achieve their Award. They should be extremely proud of what they have achieved as I firmly believe that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will serve them well and will aid them onto their next aspiration in life .The Award is a catalyst for the young people and will help them on their career path.

Barry Fisher, Director for DofE Scotland, said of the ceremonies:

“Each DofE Award is a personal development programme and all of the young people here have met their own personal goals in order to be here. With more and more young people achieving a Gold Award each year, it is a real tribute to the dedication and determination of Scotland’s young people.