Change the box- to allow athletes with Down syndrome to compete in the Paralympics.
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The Paralympics divides athletes into boxes.
- Boxes 1-10: different types of physical impairments
- Boxes 11-13: visual impairments
- Box 14: intellectual impairment.
Athletes with Down syndrome can only compete in Box 14, where the requirement is an IQ less than 75, but they can be fully able-bodied.
We always have physical issues: muscle, joint, visual, heart, thyroid and the problem of being very short limbed. That extra chromosome really gets in the way for us in every cell in our body. By making us compete for slots on the team against able bodied, tall, strong athletes we are included, but in reality we are excluded. You will hardly see a swimmer with Down syndrome in the Paralympics, however dedicated or talented they are. A simple blood test is all you need to tell you that we have BOTH physical and intellectual impairments. There are around 8 million of us around the world. We need our own box! That would be fair. That would give us something to work for and train like a champion. That would give us role models we can relate to.
When I was speaking about this at the United Nations, I learnt that in some countries people are told to just leave their baby with Down syndrome at the hospital. They get hidden away and people think they can’t do anything. That is so sad, can you believe it? Imagine if people in those countries saw swimmers with Down syndrome winning Olympic medals. Would they still think we were worth nothing?
Australians love sport and they like a fair go, but I don’t think we’re getting one, so I'm asking that Mr Glenn Tasker and the rest of the Australian Paralympic Committee please take the lead on this issue.
I am asking you to help me to change this. Please sign and share my petition with as many people as you can. It’s OK to put us in a box – but please make it our own box and definitely one with no lid! Love Olivia x
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