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Escalating 'Paralympic effects' into a social civilization
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16:44, September 18, 2008

With the flameout of the Paralympics, people waved good-bye to the splendor of the 29th Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, and Beijing, as the host city, has made history contributing to the entire world 40 days' ferment and jubilation, which is dubbed 'unmatchable' by many international dignitaries. The Olympic and Paralympic Games concluded with a satisfactory full stop, but the legacies left behind them will send us pondering and reflecting.

In retrospect, we were so impressed and touched by the Paralympic athletes, who competed hard for the very reward—equality and dignity. They convinced everybody that, through fierce competitions and by exerting their will power and courage to the utmost, they can savor the sacred Olympic moments as equals, despite their physical disabilities.

Thanks to the Beijing Paralympics, more disabled people will be integrated into the social life with the help of the newly built barrier-free facilities and the enhanced national awareness of respecting the disabled. People cannot help but reflect whether the Paralympics will act as a golden momentum to build up a real barrier-free society in the world's most populous country, not only conditioned to the construction of barrier-free facilities, but extended to the social mode as well.

Under the banner of the 'Two Olympics, Equal Splendor,' Beijing has greatly pushed ahead with the construction of barrier-free facilities in its seven years' preparatory efforts. The key innovation projects for barrier-free function alone have thus far amounted to more than 6,000. Even so, compared with some developed countries, China still has a long way to go in expanding the coverage of its disability assistance to all those in need, considering its large disabled population base. Currently, China has 82.96 million disabled people, accounting for 6.34 percent of its total population.

Jin Jing, Paralympic athlete, and also a torch bearer in the global tour of the Olympic flame, was once cited as saying, 'when I was abroad, I could frequently see the disabled people in the street. But back in China, I saw only a few of them go out and in the street.' Indeed, Chinese people's attitudes toward the disabled tend to be passive, sometimes negative. Many of the Chinese people think the disabled people cannot lead an active life, due to the fact that they could not move around freely as the normal people. This may help explain why there is no special lane available alongside the steps, and the walking lanes for the blind are always converted into parking lots in some places.

In this case, the Paralympics would not only open up a new vista to the disabled but also broaden the horizon for the whole nation which enables the bodily well-being people to have a 'barrier-free' access to the world of the disabled and have an in-depth understanding of their true needs. In so doing, many will believe that convenience and happiness of the disabled people serve as an important indicator showing a nation's civilization level, and a truly harmonious society will definitely remove all the barriers and prejudice for the disabled and off their life path.

Hopefully, the 'Paralympic effects' cooked up by hosting the Paralympic Games will go beyond the confines of time and space, and become a widespread and everlasting social mode throughout China.

By People's Daily Online

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