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Paralympics underlines value of disability sports within community clubs

Copyrights: Made By Sport

Paralympics underlines value of disability sports within community clubs

The pandemic has been even more difficult for people with disabilities. Community clubs can harness the power of sport to be a vehicle of change as we build back better.

While lockdown was challenging for us all, for those people with a disability, it was even harder.

With sporting facilities closed up and down the country, more than twice as many disabled people reported that the coronavirus had reduced their ability to do sport and physical activity compared to able-bodied people, according to research by the Activity Alliance.

The closure of facilities inevitably prompted wider concerns that the physical and mental health of disabled people would be affected longer-term, setting back progress made before March 2020 when their activity levels had been steadily rising.

Sport England have been surveying activity levels throughout the pandemic and data produced in late 2020 showed that the number of disabled people who are regularly active stands at 23%, compared to 31% of the wider population

Add to that the stark feelings of loneliness and isolation given the difficulties of finding accessible activities at the best of times, and it paints a picture that could potentially further marginalise disabled individuals.

While the UK government’s National Disability Strategy has focused on wider participation across all forms of physical activity for disabled people, it was not specific in identifying the opportunities and benefits for disabled people to have a more active lifestyle.

Prominent critics are also concerned that the Strategy does not address the inequalities that have increased as a result of COVID-19, to provide a vision for future activities and accessibility for sporting facilities that the able-bodied take for granted.

It’s been so exciting to watch the Paralympic Games in Tokyo over the past few days and see the wide variety of challenges that determined athletes overcome to achieve their sporting goals.

For many, disability is all they have known, while for others it has come later in life, after accidents, illness or in the line of duty.

One thing is clear – every single Paralympian has overcome obstacles few able-bodied individuals have ever had to face – and their stories of triumph in the face of adversity are an inspiration to us all.

That’s why I am so proud of the work that Made By Sport is supporting to help community sports clubs to recover from the financial and logistical challenges that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have created.

Whether it is helping with facilities, equipment or marketing support to inform communities of the sporting provisions available to them, our #ClubsInCrisis fund is making available significant financial resources available to a whole host of organisations and clubs across the UK. 

This isn’t a fund about ‘sport.’ It’s a fund that uses sport to help us all to build back better – bridging community divides, combatting isolation, supporting mental health and supporting young people with essential life skills like confidence, discipline, resilience and teamwork, and we are already close to distributing £2m since the fund opened in April this year.

Sport is a very powerful vehicle for change, as the Paralympics have shown us once again.

As our fund moves into its second opening phase, we welcome applications from clubs who support disabled as well as able-bodied sport and tap into the passion and endeavour that has made Paralympians such positive role models for the nation.

Community clubs can apply for funding via www.madebysport.com/clubsincrisis.

Sophie Mason is the CEO of Made By Sport.

 

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Author

Sophie Mason

Published

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 12:10

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