What Are the Paralympics?

Jean Driscoll is a wheelchair racer who grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has competed in the Summer Paralympic Games four times, winning five gold, three silver, and four bronze medals.

You have probably seen the Olympic games in the news this summer. But have you heard of the Paralympics? “Para” means “alongside.” The Paralympic Games take place right after the Olympic games. They are in the same city as the Olympics. The Paralympic Games are international sports competitions for people with disabilities.

Some Paralympians have spinal cord injuries, so they may not be able to move their legs. Others have missing limbs. They may use wheelchairs or artificial limbs to move around. Some athletes have limited vision or medical issues that make it harder for them to move. The Paralympics gives these athletes the chance to compete at a high level.

In 1948, a doctor organized games for veterans who had lost use of their legs in World War II. Those games took place at the opening of the London Summer Olympics. The first official Paralympic Games were held in 1960 in Rome. The winter Paralympic games started in 1976 in Sweden.

The International Paralympic Committee formed in 1989 to help athletes with disabilities to excel in sports. They also hope to increase respect and admiration for people with disabilities.

What Do You Think? Why do you think the Paralympics games are important?

Photo Credit: John Blanding/The Boston Globe/Getty Images