This was distressing and hard to experience. I surround myself with positivity around disability and educate those with negative perceptions.
To hear and know that there is still a very long way to go is always shocking but only drives me to do more to break down barriers and make positive change. The truth is inclusion is a term used in its loosest sense. Many people and organisations will do things to tick boxes or meet targets. They say they will do things but not fulfil their promises.
Alternatively, they say they are inclusive just to seem to be meeting requirements but, they do not practice true inclusion.
Inclusivity is not simply including others. It means giving people with disabilities the same opportunity to take part, achieve and be rewarded for reaching goals, just as their mainstream peers are.
On a much more positive note there is a sporting organisation which should be celebrated and whose athletes deserve to be recognised for their hard work and success. They are underrepresented in the mainstream world.
The Downs Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (DSISO) is an incredible association. They saw that swimmers with Down Syndrome were struggling to compete on a level playing field with other competitors with learning disabilities.
Many people with learning disabilities do not have the same physical disabilities that people with Down Syndrome often have. This means that people with Downs Syndrome can be significantly disadvantaged in disability swimming competitions. The DSISO provides an opportunity for young people with Downs Syndrome to swim at an international and World Class Level on a level playing field. They hold World Championships every two years.
This year a team from Downs Syndrome Swimming GB is heading out to Canada for the nineth Downs Syndrome World Swimming Championships. They are jetting off on July 19 and the championships takes place for five days. They are taking a team of 25 swimmers - seven juniors and 18 Seniors. All the swimmers have been training very hard at their usual sessions and at the quarterly training camps they hold.
The team are hoping for personal bests, medals and some world record times and to mirror the huge success the team experienced winning the European Championships in November last year.
Photographed are the three swimmers going to Canada from Yorkshire. William Browning, 16, William Lake, 21 and Thomas Raddings, 21. Will Browning trains with Tadcaster Stingrays and Harrogate Hotshots, Will Lake trains with Harrogate Hotshots and Thomas trains with Able2Raddings in Pontefract. All three boys are members of the Downs Syndrome Swimming Team GB and competed at the European Championships in Paris 2017. With competition qualifying times they have been selected to swim at the World Championships in Canada.
Will Browning said: “I am so excited to swim in Canada with my team mates. I am going to swim fast and get some PBs and hopefully a medal. Go Team GB!”
Will Lake said: “I am truly excited to be competing in my third World Championships. I love to meet up with my fellow swimmers they are family in my eyes. I hope to make everyone who has championed me very proud and bring back some pbs.’
Thomas Raddings said: “Thank you to the coaches in an out of the pool for the hard work to help us and to DSS Team GB for selecting us lads from Yorkshire - Go Team GBR!”
Best of luck Team GB, smash it!