Day one of Beyond Sport 2016
Day one of Beyond Sport 2016
The summit began with an afternoon of presentations, panels and discussions on inclusion in sport.
Beyond Sport 2016 kicked off with an intense afternoon of discussions on disability, inclusion and sport. The first speaker, Royal Marine JJ Chalmers, set the tone by describing how his experiences as an Invictus Competitor has changed his life after being wounded in Afghanistan.
The opening panel, 'From Access to Opportunity', discussed the role of business and policy in creating access and opportunities for under-represented groups. Lindsay Games from Sport England shared evidence that disabled people want to engage in sport with their friends and family and not be pushed into special programmes. Freya Levy, professional wheelchair basketballer, provided first-hand insights on what inclusive sport can do. Due to her diagnosis of muscular dystrophy and subsequent loss of movement in her legs, Levy uses a wheelchair to get around. She described the importance of sport as a tool for physiotherapy and socialising. She also very powerfully reminded the audience “it is society that disables me” – access to sports, buildings and amenities is limited to someone using a wheelchair because the infrastructure does not support wheelchair access.
Other presentations and panels covered topics such as the importance of collaboration as demonstrated by the 'Paralympic Legacy, Inclusion and Sports Participation programme'. Their Global Disability Innovation Hub is a knowledge centre and online community dedicated to informing people and providing support to inclusive sport initiatives.
Access through space was the topic of both the breakout sessions and involved a panel with Suzy Christopher from BT (British Telecom), Alex White from the Premier League, and the co-founders of the Shippey Campaign. The panel used the example of autism to illustrate how people with sensory difficulties are often shut out of not only playing sports but also participating as fans. The Shippey Campaign has successfully convinced the Premier League to provide spaces for those with sensory difficulties to watch and participate in matches.
Andy Sellins from the Change Foundation presented their new blind rugby programme as an example of how sport can be adapted so that disabled people can play alongside anyone. This opened the debate on what it means to label people as disabled, living with a disability or disabled by society. As audience members shared the language used in their countries it became evident that these terms hinge upon culture and how society has viewed those who are considered physically or behaviourly different.
The session closed with a panel of Invictus Competitors sharing their stories of leaving the military and finding new ways of being confident through sport. The panelists explained that while they did not have a strong background in education, their military training had given them confidence. Once being discharged due to injury, they lacked confidence in the job market. Through sport, they were able to regain not only a sense of self but relearned how to take risks.