Sport and leisure for disabled people – it’s not just for paralympians
There are no surprises in an evaluation that shows disabled people benefit from getting involved in physical activity – that’s a given, and was one of the findings from the ‘Get Yourself Active’ project.
But how do we encourage them to do so? Like many other areas of life, disabled people are much less likely to be involved in regular physical activity or sport – around half the number of non-disabled people.
Disability Rights UK developed a project, Get Yourself Active, which involved funding disabled people to act as brokers, co-ordinators and general ‘go-to’ people. We based them in organisations run by and for disabled people, where they are strongly experienced in using co-production.
Their role included:
- Educating health and social care professionals on the benefits and outcomes of physical activity for disabled people;
- Working with social care teams to help them understand the value of signing off personal budgets that include physical activity and sport;
- Identifying or developing inclusive sports provision within the local community;
- Brokering links between disabled people, disabled people’s user led; organisations and local sports providers;
- Offering support to individuals to attend their chosen physical activities.
Although the number of organisations involved was fairly small, from our findings these would be our 4 top tips to others who wish to encourage disabled people to take part in sport and leisure activity:
- Co-production is a slow burn process. It takes a while to bed in, so be patient!
- Use the personal touch. The one-to-one approach will help people identify what kind of activities they want to be involved in and help them make it happen.
- Simple advice can make a huge difference. At the start of the project, 76% of people said they didn’t know where to look to find out about getting involved in physical activity. By the end of the project, this had dropped to 3%.
- Work with sports providers. It can help change the nature and content of some activities, making them more inclusive and helping disabled people feel more part of the community.
Sport and leisure is important to everyone’s wellbeing, not least disabled people. We know from our evaluation that when we co-produce ways that encourage disabled people to get involved, it has a very positive and lasting impact.
To find out more about the ‘Get Yourself Active’ project, go to www.getyourselfactive.org