More than 300,000 children with a learning disability will have the chance to compete in the UK School Games, following action by Mencap and support from minister for sport Gerry Sutcliffe.
The Games, designed to replicate the feel of the Olympics and Paralympics, already include events for children with a physical disability, but those with a learning disability have been excluded until now. Mencap hopes that the changes will be in time for the 2008 Games, to be hosted by Bristol and Bath.
Mencap, the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Youth Sport Trust and the Equality and Human Rights Commission were all involved in the initiative.
A campaign is now under way to allow athletes with a learning disability to compete in the Paralympics. The hope is that the current ban will be lifted in time for London 2012.
The charity’s chief executive, Jo Williams (right), said: “This decision has opened up sport for children of all abilities and is an important step towards promoting inclusion and equality.”