People Still Ask If I Need a Push says Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, ahead of Alps Challenge.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is a lady who knows a thing or two about public perception. One of the most successful athletes in UK history, Tanni has won a total of 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 golds, held over 30 World Records, and won the London Marathon six times. An impressive haul which has seen Tanni decorated by the Queen and yet she is still asked why she doesn't have handles on her wheelchair so that she can be pushed.
"People don't understand I don't need pushing and still equate disability with what you cannot do" she explains. It is this Tanni says which makes the 2011 Disabled Motoring UK Alps Challenge so important. "We have to change public perception in a positive way. Denny did that in 1947 by crossing the Alps in his mobility trike. The hope is we can do it again now."
Advances in public perception, aided in part by Denny's original trip and in technology have made the 2011 Alps Challenge a slightly less daunting undertaking, which according to Tanni should only heighten our respect for what Denny did all those years ago.
"It is easy to forget what a massive deal Denny's trip was. In 1947 there was very little understanding of disability and he was venturing into a foreign country, just two years after it had been ravaged by World War 2 with no support, no mobile phone, nothing. This was a time when disabled people were left on the fringes of society, mostly they didn't even have jobs and yet here was Denny crossing the Swiss Alps and pushing back the boundaries of what was deemed possible." Tanni says, before continuing "sadly however, as the continued abuse of disabled parking bays shows, there still exists a lack of respect and understanding in some quarters. We have come a long way in 64 years, but it could and should be much better."
The hope is that, 64 years on from Denny's original trip, and using the same mobility trike, the team from Disabled Motoring UK, which will include Tanni, alongside children's TV presenter, racing driver Nicolas Hamilton and fellow Paralympian Ade Adepitan and members of the UK Armed Forces who have been injured in combat, can once again change the public perception of disability.
For more information on how you can support and follow the Disabled Motoring UK Alps Challenge check out www.disabledmotoring.org or visit our MyDonate web page, we are also on Twitter and Facebook (www.facebook.com/AlpsChallenge).
*Denny = Mr Oswald Arthur Denly, founder of the Disabled Drivers Association - the forefather of Disabled Motoring UK
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