annually on September 7th (since 2016)
Channel 4 in 2016
Superhuman Day celebrates and brings awareness to people with disabilities who have overcome what society views as physical limitations. These "superhuman" individuals may use wheels to move or even have bionic limbs, while also being athletes, artists, or musicians. Superhuman Day was created by Channel 4, a British free-to-air television network, which broadcasted the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games, also known as the Paralympics (not to be mistaken for the Special Olympic World Games). In the lead-up to the games, Channel 4 undertook an advertising campaign called "We're The Superhumans," and broadcasted a video that had 140 people with disabilities use their talents to try to change attitudes society may have about them.
The forerunner to the Paralympics was the International Wheelchair Games, held in Britain in 1948 and organized to give World War II veterans who had spinal injuries a way to participate in Olympic Games. Athletes from the Netherlands joined in 1952 and it truly became international. The Paralympics were officially first held in 1960, in Rome, and more than just World War II veterans were allowed to participate. There were 400 participants from 23 countries. By 1976 there were 1,600 participants from 40 countries, and in 2012 there were 4,200 participants from 164 countries.
Paralympians are divided into six different disability groups: amputee, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and "les autres"—those that don't fit into one of the other categories. They are divided into classes beyond this. Some sports of the Winter Paralympics are cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, and biathlon, while some sports of the Summer Paralympics are swimming, cycling, and archery. Just like the Olympic Games, the Paralympics are held every two years and alternate between Summer Games and Winter Games. Beginning in 1988, and officially the case since 2001, the Paralympics have been held in the same city as the Olympic Games, shortly after their completion. Superhuman Day celebrates and brings awareness not only to the Paralympians of these games but to all people with disabilities who have overcome what society may view as limitations.
How to Observe Superhuman Day
Some ways to take part in the day include:
- Encourage athletes and others with disabilities. Give them recognition for the challenges they overcome and for their achievements.
- Make plans to watch or attend the next Paralympic Games.
- Read a book about the Paralympics.
- Learn about famous Paralympians.
- Learn about the different Paralympic sports.
- Make a donation to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Foundation.