AS THE eyes of the world turn to London for the Paralympic Games, an event tomorrow aims to highlight the needs of the disabled community back at home in Oxfordshire.
Organisers hope the Parade for Equality will bring together hundreds of people to raise awareness of the need for equality for the disabled.
It has been put together by Oxfordshire Unlimited, a charity committed to helping people with physical difficulties to do what anyone else can.
Charity spokesman Lilian Sherwood said: “We want people to be able to live a better and fuller life by overcoming the obstacles that prevent them from doing so. We want everyone to have equal opportunities so they can become more independent.”
The free event will see dozens of people march around the Roger Bannister Track off Iffley Road – where Sir Roger broke the four-minute mile in 1954.
There will then be opportunities to meet other disabled members of the community, local representatives and enjoy music and food.
Ms Sherwood said: “We thought it was important to mark the Paralympic Games in a venue that has seen such incredible sport take place.
“It is something for people to say they’ve done, that they’ve been round that track and they know what an incredible place it is.”
Fellow organiser Gary Critchlow-Smith, husband of former Paralympic archer Kathy, said: “This is the first time an event like this has been held in Oxfordshire and we purposely chose the period of the Paralympic Games as the focus is on people with disabilities. “We have athletes, groups such as Help For Heroes and the Army Benevolent Fund and various dignitaries coming along. There will be stalls, games and the chance to socialise before the parade begins.” Oxfordshire Unlimited works alongside Oxfordshire County Council on issues such as accessibility and public transport.
Ms Sherwood said: “Life for disabled people in this country has improved so much in the past 50 years or so, a lot more organisations are opening their doors and access is a lot better.
“But there is still so much work to do. A lot of people still don’t have the confidence to leave their houses.
“So we have people who are disabled, who work with them on confidence building and go on days out with them.
“This is about showing people there is a world out there for them.”
The event runs at the Oxford University Sports Centre off Iffley Road from 11am until 1.30pm. A free barbecue lunch will be provided for the first 160 entrants. All are welcome.