News and stories News and blogs A journey to the Paralympics... Where it begins Where does the journey begin for para athletes? In everyday assistive technology - like a wheelchair - that allows mobility and independence. Clare Childs, 24 August 2021 As more than 4,000 athletes gather in Tokyo for the 16th Paralympic Games, it’s a time of celebration. We’re about to see the biggest show of disability talent, determination and achievement. The Games is a hugely important moment for disability representation. People around the world – disabled and non-disabled – are focused entirely on the abilities of disabled people. For two weeks, we see powerful, strong athletes making history. When so often, disabled people are overlooked, excluded or pitied. Even if you’re not into sports, it’s clear that the Paralympic journey is long and tough. Many barriers and hurdles must be overcome along the way – from injuries and illness to the logistics of international travel. But where does the journey begin? For many, it’s with access to appropriate assistive technology. I’m not talking about an elite sports wheelchair or cutting edge running blades that cost thousands of dollars. No, I mean an everyday product that helps someone leave their home, gain dignity, build confidence and create an independent life If you live in a country like the UK, you might think that anyone who needs a wheelchair will get one. If you don’t use a wheelchair, you might think that any product will do. The reality is very different. It has a huge impact on participation in disability sport* – and all other areas of life. In fact, 75 million people in the world need a wheelchair right now. And the vast majority live in low- and middle-income countries. People here rely on donations of second-hand wheelchairs – often broken, rusty, heavy or completely the wrong size. They’re difficult to move around in. So many wheelchair users just stay at home. Can you imagine taking on a new sport when you can’t even get down the road to the shop? At Motivation, we’re working for a future in which every person who needs a wheelchair can access one. And every wheelchair provided is suitable to the user’s environment and needs. Everything starts here. An appropriate wheelchair enables someone to become mobile, self-reliant, stronger and healthier. It allows them to feel part of their community. And once that’s possible, they can take up sport or do a million other things. Of course, the wheelchair is just the first step. There is a huge amount of work to be done so we can see more athletes from low- or middle-income countries on the global sporting stage. Although access to sport and play is a human right, stigma and discrimination stand in the way of governments and communities setting up activities for disabled people. There need to be opportunities for training, competition and sponsorship, as well as access to facilities, equipment and nutrition. We believe that is possible. That’s why we built our entry-level sports wheelchairs. They were designed in conjunction with the International Paralympic Committee and international sport federations to provide an affordable option for clubs around the world. They provide the chance for anyone to try out their talents on the court or track for the first time – wherever they live in the world. Today, hundreds of participants are cutting their sporting teeth using a Motivation sports wheelchair. They may just enjoy their sport at a participation level, love the community they find in being part of a team, and enjoy the skills they pick up that go beyond taking control of their physical and often mental health. For others this could be a sporting adventure that takes them all the way to the Paralympic Games. Where does the journey begin? It begins here.