Brands, talent and Paralympic purpose.

The Paralympic Games has built one of the most powerful movements for social good in the history of sport.

For decades, it has given a global platform to people with disabilities from a range of different backgrounds, celebrating achievement and shedding light on pervasive, everyday challenges. Since the Paralympics was linked to the Olympic Games in 1988, it has even helped to drive changes in policy, public attitudes and the development of urban spaces in host cities.

This is a mission that the International Paralympic Commiittee (IPC) has continued against the difficult backdrop of the ongoing Beijing 2022 Winter Games. That event has been overshadowed by a combination of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which has led to a ban for Russian para-athletes – and concerns over China’s human rights and censorship record.

Nonetheless, the Paralympics retains an essential function in the sports landscape and its ambitions are expanding. In 2021, the IPC’s campaigning zeal helped inspire WeThe15, described as the biggest ever human rights movement to end discrimination on behalf of the 1.2 billion people living with disabilities worldwide.

Its partners have also changed how they engage, whether through funding initiatives or provocative creative work. National sponsors have provided support across key markets while a 2018 deal with the International Olympic Committee will see its global partners support the Paralympics until 2032. That has broadened the reach of Paralympic marketing and demonstrated the continued commercial appeal of the Games.

Fundamentally, however, the real potential of the Paralympic project – for brand partners and the wider sports community – lies with para-athletes themselves. There is huge value in what they can relate about overcoming adversity to excel in Paralympic competition, and about the reality of life between Games. More than that, they are ready take the public conversation around disability forward, adding nuance and challenging preconceptions and easy answers.

Plenty of individuals have carried that message further. In the UK, for example, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has pursued progress through charitable and board roles and now as a crossbench representative in the House of Lords. Another former British Paralympian, Sophia Warner, created the Superhero Series, the mass participation disability sport events now sponsored by comic entertainment giant Marvel along with companies like Pfizer, HSBC and Oracle.

Each Games generates hundreds of stories that can inspire and illuminate. Unlocking them can deliver further benefits to brands and other organisations as well as the Paralympians who tell them. Through its partnership with Paralympics Australia, Vlast has connected para-athletes with public and corporate events and campaigns through its machine-learning solutions, matching the right talent to the right opportunity.

For all the progress that the Paralympics has made, there is even more that can be accomplished. Harnessing the network of para-athlete experiences is one way of reaching another level.

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