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Accentuate Medal 4: Accentuate Drives Inspiration in Sharing the Story of the Paralympic Movement with Hundreds of Young People Across the Globe

Accentuate is celebrating the legacy of Stoke Mandeville Hospital by supporting a major new exhibition, which will take place alongside the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Entitled Path to the Paralympic Games: From Stoke Mandeville to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the exhibition is the culmination of Accentuate’s Mandeville Legacy project, and opened on Tuesday 28th August 2012, coinciding with Paralympic Torch night.

The exhibition will celebrate Stoke Mandeville’s role as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement and the story of Sir Ludwig Guttman, the visionary doctor who revolutionised treatment and life chances for those with spinal injuries. Dr Guttman’s dream was of a worldwide sports competition for people with disabilities to be held every four years as 'the equivalent of the Olympic Games'. He went on to organise the first ‘Stoke Mandeville Games’, the forerunner of today's Paralympic Games, to coincide with the start of the London Olympics in 1948.

Through its Mandeville Legacy project, led by Buckinghamshire County Council, Accentuate has celebrated the values and achievements of the Paralympic movement, uncovering the history of the movement with past patients of Dr Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, local residents involved with the hospital and the early games and past Paralympians.  Additionally, the Stoke Mandeville heritage has been celebrated with disabled and non-disabled young people through a range of creative activities involving Paralympians and disabled artists. The largest of these, a project called ‘Driving Inspiration’, ran initially throughout Buckinghamshire, before being extended in 2012 to include young people worldwide. 

‘Driving Inspiration’ has successfully engaged with disabled and non-disabled young people and increased their understanding of disability. Initially fifteen schools across the South East participated in the project with over 6000 young people taking part through assemblies/celebration days. Drawing on the inspiration of Stoke Mandeville, schools in Buckinghamshire and beyond worked with deaf and disabled artists and Paralympians to enable children to identify their own inspiration. School resources have been developed and used nationally and internationally, and this will prove central to Accentuate’s goal of achieving a ‘cultural shift’ in the way disabled people are seen. Recently the Driving Inspiration project was developed and 497 young disabled and non-disabled young people from 12 Countries across the globe made an animation entitled “Light Up The World” about the Paralympics.   Watch this film by following this link

‘Driving Inspiration’ has helped develop lasting partnerships and recently secured further investment from Arts Council England, which now places it in a strong position to independently lead this area of work.

The Mandeville Legacy project will ensure that the South East’s role as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement at Stoke Mandeville is recognised by the world. Thanks to additional support from the Heritage Lottery Fund it will continue to record histories of individual Paralympic athletes and to improve access to Stoke Mandeville’s historic archives, in order to foster public understanding of the story of disability in the region and inspire future generations.

The exhibition is at Lady Guttmann Bowls Centre, Stoke Mandeville Stadium
Guttmann Road, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP21 9PP and is open until Sunday 16th September. More Driving Inspiration artwork and films will also be on display in the Mezzanine Gallery at High Wycombe library until Sunday 9th September.

Accentuate would also like to thank Wheelpower for their support of the exhibition and enabling access to the Paralympic Archive.

Mandeville Legacy is part of Accentuate, the London 2012 Legacy Programme for the South East. Accentuate has been funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK. Screen South is the home of Accentuate.

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