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Tokyo Paralympics: WeThe15 campaign aims to tackle discrimination faced by 1.2 billion disabled people worldwide | Olympics News

WeThe15 is striving for greater awareness for disabled people across the globe in sport and society; Prince Harry, a Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, is among those backing the initiative; Tokyo Paralympics get underway on August 24

Last Updated: 23/08/21 11:20am

David Weir, who was born with a spinal cord transection that left him unable to use his legs, is one of Britain's most prominent Paralympians

David Weir, who was born with a spinal cord transection that left him unable to use his legs, is one of Britain’s most prominent Paralympians

A new campaign, led by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), called WeThe15, is aiming to become the biggest ever human rights movement to represent the world’s 1.2 billion people with disabilities.

The focus is on ending discrimination towards people with disabilities and acting as a global movement publicly campaigning for disability visibility, accessibility, and inclusion.

Spearheaded by the IPC and International Disability Alliance (IDA), WeThe15 brings together the biggest-ever coalition of international organisations from the worlds of sport, human rights, policy, business, arts, and entertainment.

Together they will work with governments, businesses, and the public over the next decade to initiate change for the world’s largest marginalised group who make up 15 per cent of the global population.

The Paralympic Games start on August 24 and run until September 8

The Paralympic Games start on August 24 and run until September 8

Aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, WeThe15 aims to change attitudes and create more opportunities by:

  • Putting persons with disabilities at the heart of the diversity and inclusion agenda
  • Implementing a range of activities targeting governments, businesses, and the public to drive social inclusion for persons with disabilities
  • Breaking down societal and systemic barriers that are preventing persons with disabilities from fulfilling their potential and being active members of society
  • Ensuring greater awareness, visibility, and representation of persons with disabilities
  • Promoting the role of assistive technology as a vehicle to driving social inclusion

IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “WeThe15 aspires to be the biggest ever human rights movement for persons with disabilities and aims to put disability right at the heart of the inclusion agenda, alongside ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

“By uniting several leading international organisations and the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities behind one common movement, we will make a tangible and well overdue difference for the planet’s largest marginalised group.

“Sport, and events such as the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, are hugely powerful vehicles to engage global audiences.

“By partnering with Special Olympics, Invictus Games, and Deaflympics, there will be at least one major international sport event for persons with disabilities to showcase WeThe15 each year between now and 2030.

“These sports events add great value to the campaign and underline the hugely positive impact sport can have on society. I strongly believe WeThe15 could be a real game-changer for persons with disabilities.”

Prince Harry is backing the WeThe15 campaign

Prince Harry is backing the WeThe15 campaign

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, said: “One of the reasons why I was inspired to create the Invictus Games was to help destigmatise physical and invisible injuries and give the men and women who have experienced them a platform to show the world that they and we can accomplish anything, when we put our mind to it.

“Everybody at the Invictus Games Foundation is honoured to join the WeThe15 campaign and believe in its mission to inspire meaningful change in communities around the world.”

Ana Lucia Arellano, Chairperson of the International Disability Alliance, added: “Over the past 20 years, a lot has been achieved regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

“We successfully advocated for the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as to be included in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

“Looking into the future, we recognise that there is still a lot to be done if we want to achieve the full inclusion of more than a billion persons we represent. We need new creative and innovative approaches, and we need much broader coalition to achieve that.

“WeThe15 has a unique opportunity and responsibility to achieve exactly that – to be a platform where more and new actors will come together making the ‘Nothing about us without us’ a real change for all persons with disabilities.”

Paralympic runner Richard Whitehead hopes to inspire long-term change

Paralympic runner Richard Whitehead hopes to inspire long-term change

For athletes like Paralympic runner Richard Whitehead, this Paralympic Games, which start next Wednesday, mean more than just winning gold. It’s a chance to inspire long-term change.

He told Sky News: “We as disabled people need to see it to believe it’s possible and that’s in all areas of life whether that’s sport, that’s entertainment, or in the work place.

“When we get our medals, we go home and we’re still disabled people with so many obstacles and challenges in our lives.”


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