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Disability sport providers should have more access to funds

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Young disabled people and providers of disability sports should have more opportunities to bid for funds for equipment and specialist support to counter participation drop-off after their school years, says a new research paper.

According to a report compiled by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), titled Active Beyond Education?, securing funding to provide sport for disabled youngsters that had finished school was “often challenging” and contributed to the decreasing participation levels.

The report, referencing Sport England’s Active People Survey 2014, highlighted that “one of the biggest declines in sports participation of disabled people occurs around the time they leave education”, between the ages of 16 and 25.

To arrest the slide, the research details a number of recommendations including the need for sports providers to reach out to young disabled people, while they are still in education or where they feel comfortable (e.g. youth groups), to provide them with an experience of sport that engenders confidence and skill.

Providers should also use channels and networks to promote their opportunities and increase awareness of inclusive opportunities for them and their families.

The work – which was commissioned by by six of the UK’s National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs): British Blind Sport, Cerebral Palsy Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK, LimbPower, UK Deaf Sport and WheelPower – demonstrated a number of factors that influence the future participation for disabled people during their transition from school to adulthood.

Changes in physical condition, a lack of confidence, independence and resilience and external factors such as access to sport inside and outside of school, family and peer support and the availability of adequate equipment were all highlighted.

As well as recommendations for sport providers, the report delivered advice for healthcare professionals and teachers to “provide better opportunities and maintain activity levels of young disabled people after they leave education”.

Healthcare providers were encouraged to recommend suitable sport and leisure activities for disabled people. It also suggested training and guidance for educators should include advice on how to get young disabled people to engage with PE and develop ‘life skills’.

The findings, which were supported by Sport England’s Inclusive Sport Fund, will shape the future provision of sport and physical activity for young disabled people.

“Given the overwhelming benefits to being active, it’s important that sport and fitness remains a practical choice for disabled people, at every stage of their life,” said Sport England director of insight, Lisa O’Keefe.

“This new research offers a helpful view of young disabled people’s experience of sport and fitness, and practical suggestions on how to build exercise into our lives.”

Read the full report here.

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Young disabled people and providers of disability sports should have more opportunities to bid for funds for equipment and specialist support to counter participation drop-off after their school years, says a new research paper.
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