Breaking down barriers to activity: shining a light on UK Disability History Month
16th November – 16th December 2022 is UK Disability History Month, and this year's theme is 'Disability, Health and Wellbeing. Here at Active Oxfordshire, we know and recognise the important benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing, when we are physically active. However, we also recognise the inequalities disabled people face in accessing physical activity and sport and we work to try to reduce these inequalities. We also know though that disability, like all protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, is not a stand-alone barrier to people facing difficulties in accessing physical activity and is usually one of many barriers including not being able to access appropriate local activities and the impact on their emotional wellbeing including confidence.
Supporting disabled children to be more active
We are very proud of YouMove, a programme which supports families on low incomes to be able to access free and low-cost activities to support them in being physically active. However, data from the programme shows that, of the disabled children registered with the YouMove programme, 51% are inactive. This means that they are engaging in less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day and shows us that supporting disabled children to access physical activity is a key priority going forwards.
However, Active Oxfordshire, was really pleased to see this year the Chief Medical Officer for England release the first ever physical activity guidelines for disabled children and young people. It is vitally important that disabled children are able to be physically active in a way which works for them. This article outlines the guidance.
As a charity, we exist to 'Fight Inactivity, Tackle Inequality' and we know from national statistics that of all children in the UK, 9% are disabled. Facts & Statistics | Activity Alliance | Disability Sport
This means that nearly 1 in every 10 children are living with a disability and could be facing barriers to physical activity.
How our inclusive sports programme is changing lives
We also know that there are both visible and hidden disabilities and as an organisation, we are keen to ensure that everyone, regardless of their individual needs, can access physical activity in a way which works for them. That's why we have collaborated with Access Sport, a charity which has been working in Oxford City since 2014, to create Access Sport Oxfordshire. This programme is now county wide and aims to support disadvantaged and disabled children and young people by working with local clubs to become more inclusive as well as ensuring that there is opportunity for engagement across a variety of different activities. It is our ambition to ensure that we work with partners and communities to transform disability provision across the county. With only 35% of disabled children feeling confident to take part in physical activity, we know we have lots of work to do. We are supporting a number of projects which are driving us forward in meeting this ambition. We support both Wheels for All Oxford and Junior Wheels for All in Witney. They provide a range of adapted bicycles for use by participants in a safe environment that boosts confidence, enables them to learn new skills, increases social interaction all whilst exercising in the fresh air. This enables participants to join in alongside their family and friends and the impact this has is amazing.
If you would like to find out more about either project, please visit:
All year approach
We recognise that, whilst it is important to use platforms such as UK Disability History Month to highlight barriers disabled people face, and in particular to physical activity, we must continue to work to highlight these barriers all year round and to ensure that everyone has an equitable chance to be physically active.
If you would like to donate to Access Sport Oxfordshire, please visit Active Oxfordshire – Make a donation