Disabled and non-disabled people will have more opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity together thanks to a new report issued by the English Federation of Disability Sport. ‘Active Together’ gives providers more in-depth information on organising activities for a mixed audience. Covering a range of sports, levels and areas, the study examines current providers’ experiences, successes and learning points. It also suggests ways to attract more disabled people to be active in this way.
In the English Federation of Disability Sport’s (EFDS) Lifestyle Report released in September 2013, findings highlighted a clear mismatch between how disabled people prefer being active and the availability of such opportunities. Six in ten disabled people (64 per cent) surveyed said they prefer to take part in sport and physical activity with a mix of disabled and non-disabled people, but only five in ten (51 per cent) currently do.
‘Active Together’ uses information gathered from across England, from local activity to international competition. The different activities include BMX riding, canoeing, dance, martial arts, multi-sports and wheelchair rugby. It provides evidence-based findings from talking to providers and participants- both disabled and non-disabled people. Findings highlight that there are mutual benefits in providing integrated activities, as well as challenges to overcome for both providers and participants. The report contains first-hand comments, such as:
“The difference for me is, when the focus is a disability, you get a range of people who want different things out of a club. When you get something where the focus is participation or competition you get people of like minds.” (Participant, sitting volleyball)
“Now it has such a good reputation. We have children who come with their brothers or sisters or friends who have a disability, or others who just come of their own accord. We get a lot of parents saying they choose to come here because they like the integrated approach and they think it’s good for their children.” (Provider, multi sports camp)
Disabled people also echoed this mixed-setting preference in EFDS’s recent Motivate Me report. That study, released in May, showed that a great majority of disabled people are more likely to respond to opportunities to get active which tap into the things that matter to them most, including: building friendships, maintaining health, becoming more independent and progressing in life.
Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, said:
“More often than not disabled people are looking for opportunities, which are as likely to appeal to their non-disabled friends and family, enabling them to get active wherever and in whatever sport or activity they choose. Likewise, there is no one size fits all for how providers communicate with disabled people. There is still a number of different factors that can prevent groups of people or individuals from noticing and receiving communications.”
While the information in ‘Active Together’ supports providers with ideas and guidance, EFDS acknowledges that not all sports are feasible and not every disabled person wants to take part in this mixed setting. EFDS hopes it provides more insight for providers to use others’ better practices in their own development.
Emma Spring, Research and Insight Manager for EFDS, said:
“We are aware that this setting is not appropriate in all situations, but this report highlights ways in which it can be successfully delivered. It also outlines how it can be accomplished in different situations, maximising the benefits for participants and providers.”
The charity hopes that this valuable research is used to increase and improve opportunities for disabled people, as well as addressing some of the key barriers, which prevent disabled people being active for life.
Download the full Active Together report here.