National charity Activity Alliance is calling time on negative perceptions through its campaign, ‘Who says?’. The leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity wants disabled children and young people to have the same opportunities to be active as their non-disabled peers.
Who says? draws attention to just some of the negative perceptions that can impact disabled children and young people’s opportunities to be active. Activity Alliance’s research highlights that there is significant work to do for it to be a level playing field for disabled children and young people in sport and activity. Only a quarter (25 per cent) of disabled children say they take part in sport and activity all of the time at school. This is compared to 41 per cent of non-disabled children.
Who says? focuses on four perceptions about disabled children and young people. The perceptions arise from the charity’s research – My Active Future report:
- Young disabled people should sit out of PE lessons
- Disabled people can’t be leaders
- Disabled children can’t grow up to be active adults
- Families can’t be active together
Disabled people of all ages have countless personal experiences that lead to marginalisation, low confidence, and inactivity. Who says? empowers people of all ages, on and off the field of play, to challenge their own and others’ perceptions.
Organisations across Gloucestershire are supporting children and young people with disabilities, to get active and we want to showcase the incredible work they are doing.
BEAM! through Gymnastics is an accessible gymnastics club, based at Cirencester College which supports children with additional emotional, physical, behavioural and sensory challenges. Beam! support children from pre-school age upwards at weekly gymnastics sessions.
Gymnastics Coach Rachel said “Our goal was to give children with additional needs a fun, safe and welcoming gymnastics club to attend where not only do they feel accepted but their parents and carers can feel comfortable in knowing that whatever the challenges their children have, BEAM! Gymnastics will embrace them!”
Hazel, one of the coaches at Beam! said “We acknowledge that every child is different, with their own specific needs and their ability. Therefore each child has their own plan/programme at BEAM Gymnastics, and they work, with the BEAM Team Coaches to accomplish their own ‘I can’ moments, which, they can, if they wish, share their success with the other gymnasts.”
Richard is one of the volunteers at Beam! Who took part in classes. Richard likes Beam as it gives him the opportunity to help other people and he also enjoys taking part with the activity.
Richard said that some activities are not accessible or are unable to support his needs – one example was a Fencing group he joined, which he was then asked to leave as they couldn’t support his needs.
For people without a disability, finding a club or activity to take part in is easy but if you have additional needs, this is much harder to come by and options are limited. Richard would like to have the opportunity to try rock climbing (indoor or outdoor), curling and surf boarding but many clubs are unable to support him.
At Active Gloucestershire, we want to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to be active, and we want to support people living with disabilities to live active lives. In order to achieve this, we have a dedicated team that support the improvement and expansion of inclusive physically active opportunities. We want to inspire change by challenging these perceptions, we connect people to resources – monetary or otherwise – and we enable activity providers to take steps to provide these opportunities.
Alice Evans, Disability and Inclusion Project Officer at Active Gloucestershire said “The Who Say’s? campaign is a great opportunity to showcase some of the trailblazers for inclusive physical activity across the county. With many of the organisations we work with having inclusion embedded within their practices, they are already challenging how physical activity for people living with a disability is perceived.
“We want to ensure children and young people living with a disability have a choice in how they access physical activity; whether this is through opportunities to compete, leadership opportunities, or simply being able to be active together as a family or class without facing exclusion.”
You can read more about the Who say’s? campaign at www.activityalliance.org.uk/whosays.