Praise for Evening Times giving people with disabilities a voice

THE Evening Times support of the Parasports movement of Glasgow 2014 has catapulted the debate beyond the city and into the developing countries.

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development Lynne Featherstone MP, who is championing disability rights for people in developing countries. Violence Against Women and Disability also form part of her portfolio.

One of the reasons why Lynne was keen to visit Glasgow was because many disabled athletes from developing Commonwealth Countries will descend on the city to complete in the 2014 Games.

It will be a chance to embrace the celebratory atmosphere which always surrounds the Games.

Lynne and I toured the Emirates Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

We met Gordon McCormack, who is senior co-ordinator for disabled sports at Glasgow City Council and chairman of Scottish Disability Sport, along with Jonathan Shaw, the general manager of the Emirates Arena, who talked about the building and the benefits to everyone who uses them.

Lynne was struck by how dedicated the organisers of Glasgow 2014 are about making sure the Games deliver for people with disabilities.

Glasgow 2014 will feature the biggest ever number of Parasport medal events in its history - with 22 in total, spanning five sports.

The Games offers a great opportunity to raise the profile of issues facing people living with disabilities in the UK and across developing countries.

The visit was a chance to see how preparations for the Games are progressing and to meet those with insights on improving access and equality for people living with disabilities.

Lynne also highlighted the pledge that any school construction supported directly by the Department for International Development allows disability access, when currently almost 90% of children living with disabilities in Africa do not regularly attend schools.

Technology has been a lifeline to many people, including myself, in developed countries - in stark contrast to the situation in the slums of Dehli I visited a few years ago, where it was heartbreaking to see many disabled children who couldn't write.

It was evident that Lynne and I shared the same passion for the Parasports being endorsed in Glasgow.

The Games will be a source of inspiration for people with disabilities not only in Glasgow, but across the world.

And Lynne praised the Evening Times for the chance it has given me in highlighting the work of people with disabilities.

She said: "Campaign-ers like Julie McElroy are doing a great job in keeping disability issues on the agenda.

"The Evening Times deserves credit for giving people with disabilities a voice across the city.

"In the world's poorest countries people with disabilities are often the most vulnerable, that is why the UK is pushing hard to put disability at the heart of the post Millennium Development Goals agenda."

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