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Activity Alliance campaign looks to 'call time on negative perceptions'

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Negative experiences should not be allowed to continually shape disabled people’s lives
– Barry Horne

A new national campaign looks to dispel negative perceptions about disability, inclusion and sport.

Charity Activity Alliance (formerly the English Federation of disability sport) has launched the "Who Says?" initiative, which aims to empower people – on and off the field of play – to challenge their own and others’ perceptions disability sport.

"For far too long disabled people have faced misconceptions and presumptions on what is and isn’t possible, including in sport," the organisation said in a launch statement.

"We want to move the conversations on, open people’s minds and shift out-dated views on disability. 'Who says?' gives positive evidence that replaces these negative ideas."

The campaign was created partly in response to the charity’s recent research, which explored non-disabled people’s attitudes on inclusive activity.

The findings show how a lack of understanding could be causing long-lasting barriers for disabled people, leading to inactivity.

"For the least active audience in our country, people’s attitudes can make or break activity experiences," the charity states in the report (to download and read the report in full, click here.

Previous research has shown that disabled people are twice as likely to be physically inactive as non-disabled people, with the main barriers to being active being psychological, logistical and physical.

Other findings include that, while only 14 per cent of non-disabled people are aware of having previously taken part in sport with disabled people, three quarters (73 per cent) of non-disabled people are open to the idea.

“Negative experiences should not be allowed to continually shape disabled people’s lives," said Barry Horne, CEO for Activity Alliance.

"This campaign aims to replace misconceptions with reality.

"If we truly want everybody to benefit from being active, then we need to call time on negative perceptions. The positive messages in our campaign provide a fresh and authentic view of the sports world.

"We are asking you to join us in creating a movement built solidly on equality, freedom and choice.”

To kick off the campaign, Activity Alliance has produced a series of films challenging some of the existing perceptions of disability sport. These include the notion that a sport is not "real sport" if you have to adapt it and that disabled people aren’t competitive.

“We are delighted to see the launch of the Who Says campaign which will challenge negative-perceptions disabled people face when getting active while encouraging people of all abilities to get active together," added Adam Blaze, Sport England’s strategic lead for disability.

"Views that disabled people don’t want to join in might get hurt or that everyone can’t take part together are just some of the perceptions that prevent disabled people from being active.

"The campaign tackles these myths head-on showing that we can all do more to break down the barriers and challenge negative perceptions facing disabled people wanting to get involved in sport and physical activity.”

The first campaign phase will run for six weeks and the Activity Alliance is encouraging organisations to get involved in the campaign by posting their own experiences using the #WhoSays hashtag on social media.

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A new national campaign looks to dispel negative perceptions about disability, inclusion and sport.
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