Ban overturned on competitors with learning disability in 2008 school games

Thanks to a hard-fought campaign by Mencap and Parents, over 300,000 young people with a learning disability can now take part in the UK School Games.

In August last year, a ban was imposed on children with a learning disability taking part in the UK School Games (UKSG). The UKSG launched in 2006 with the aim of giving young athletes a taster of the Olympic and Paralympic games. But from the start it adopted the current Paralympic ban on competitors with a learning disability.

The reason given was that there is no suitable system to test learning disability. But opponents of the UKSG decision – including parents and Mencap – argued that this did not apply at school level. They demanded the government take action so that children with a learning disability could compete at the August 2008 games, which will take place in Bristol and Bath.

Eventually a breakthrough came during a meeting with sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe. He agreed to take steps that will enable children with a learning disability to compete at the games.

Steve Butterworth, a parent who campaigned to have the ban lifted, said: "Gerry Sutcliffe was fully behind us. I was heartened by his willingness to chair the necessary meetings that will ensure all children can take part in the games."

Plans are now underway to develop qualifying events in time for the 2008 games.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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