You know what happens when you show the London 2012 Paralympics on TV as you would other international sports? You get interest in diversity now and for years to come.
As we are approaching another presidential election in the United States, we hear nothing from our political leaders about people with disabilities. Nothing was said during the Republican National Convention and I'm sure little will be said at the Democratic National Convention either. Actions speak volumes too and maybe our leaders can have a conversation with 10 Downing Street (we can ask Mitt to make the call?) to ask how we can better include and support people with disabilities.
Tonight there is a full house in London for the Team Great Britain sitting volleyball game. There were 80,000 fans in the athletic stadium two nights ago with another loud crowd tonight. Coverage all day on national television (BBC) of all the games. Fans flock to see their countrywomen and men work hard to compete. They come out to cheer them on.
London spent time investing in these Games, before, during and after. It will make a dramatic difference in the lives of People with Disabilities. In the lead up to the Games, there were accommodations built into the infrastructure. Ramps, accessible public transportation and hotels. Money was spent to make the events more accommodating.
During these Games, I see volunteers and employees asking how they can help. It's not overbearing, but the exact amount of care. I feel welcome.
The biggest change will come in the next generation. There are children traveling to the Games with their parents. They are seeing people with disabilities compete. When they go through school and into a career, maybe these children will see not someone special but able. To work, teach, parent, doctor, govern and love. This is great for Great Britain but what about the United States with the Veterans returning from service and Autism on the rise?
NBC is showing little of the Paralympic Games in the States. They will tell you there is a lack of sponsorship, but there would be viewers. Sponsors follow when there are viewers. The stories are compelling by themselves. NBC loves an inspirational story. Imagine 10 days of stories about athletes like amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius on The Today Show?
In the long run, I see businesses in the United States working toward an inclusive society. Cargill, Barclays Capital and Walgreens stand out as leaders. We need more. We need political leaders to lead in this area as well. If we want more inclusion in our society isn't showing the Games one way to begin our inclusive journey?