Inclusivity in Action
Tackling inequality and increasing diversity in physical activity & sport is one of the greatest challenges we face. It's so important that we are doing everything in our power to become a fully equal, inclusive and diverse organisation. This means that at times we need to challenge ourselves, feel uncomfortable and commit resource, energy and passion into making change happen. We have committed to listening to and actively seeking views from all stakeholders across the community.
This blog continues the conversation and aims to "check-in" with where we're at now as an organisation, as well as shining a light on one of the recent projects we got involved in and why.
According to UK Sport, "equality is about recognising and removing the barriers faced by people involved or wanting to be involved in sport. It is about changing the culture of sport to one that values diversity and enables the full involvement of disadvantaged groups in every aspect of sport."
Beyond legal or regulatory compliance, do we do enough? With such a broad and ever-changing topic, it's essential for organisations to take stock, reflect, ask questions, and crucially, we need to hear from the people who experience the barriers that are stopping people from living an active life.
Inclusive Sport Design shared a blog on the topic of Inclusion, which reads "At the centre of the conversation about social inclusion is the concept of disadvantage. Inclusion happens when the barriers and challenges that lead to disadvantage are removed. In doing so everybody has a fair opportunity to participate.
So, there is more than one approach to addressing the barriers that cause disadvantage. In sport it isn't as simple as saying that there is one "right" approach for all situations. We need to consider the context and the goals of our activities. We need to understand our participants, what barriers, limitations or thresholds exist and the resources and supports that are available."
Inclusive sport in action: Enrych Oxfordshire: Everest Challenge
Enrych Oxfordshire was established 35 years ago by Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder. Since then, the charity has been enabling adults with a physical disability, including our very own Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator, Phoebe Gibbons, to enjoy leisure, learning and sporting opportunities.
Pheobe writes about opportunities to participate in physical challenges and the recent Mt Everest event hosted by Enrych:
"I have always had a keen interest in participating in physical challenges in order to raise money for charities which are close to my heart. However, it is very difficult to be able to participate in challenges which meet my individual needs. Often, these challenges have time limits on them or the routes are not wheelchair friendly, therefore meaning more often than not I feel unable to register to participate because I know it is not suitable for me. This affects how I feel about myself because it is another example of where I am made to feel different and this makes me feel as though I am not good enough.
I understand why these challenges have time limits, as an example, but what I don't understand is why there are not alternatives being offered for those people, and not necessarily just disabled people, for whom completing a challenge in a set time may not be viable.
That's why I decided to explore the option of setting up a challenge, designed to ensure that everyone who wanted too, could participate. Working with Enrych Oxfordshire, a wonderful local charity which supports adults with physical disabilities, and Active Oxfordshire, we were able to do exactly this, create an inclusive challenge whereby everyone who wanted too, were able to participate.
The Mt Everest challenge was designed to ensure that we covered the distance of Mt Everest, but did so as a team, therefore taking the pressure off of individuals to cover a set distance. When living with a disability, each day can be very unpredictable, so it was important to ensure people could participate in a safe way and to ensure that they had a positive experience. We wanted them to know that however far they travelled, it counted and was an achievement. We also ensured that participants were able to rest whenever they needed to and had access to environments which worked for them, meaning some participated virtually from home, whilst those who participated at Horspath, had access to an accessible toilet and rest whenever it was needed.
For me, it was a real privilege to be able to meet with people who were enjoying themselves, socialising but more importantly seeing them get active in a way which worked for them. I feel we need to see more opportunities such as this to ensure that we are giving everyone who would like the opportunity to participate the chance to do so. If nothing else, it provides people the chance to get active, which not only benefits them physically, it also benefits their mental wellbeing as well.
We managed, as a team, to travel an astonishing 25 miles in total, way over target, an achievement the team is very proud of. We are also really pleased that we managed to create an event that everyone could participate in. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen, it is greatly appreciated."
You can still donate here: Climb Everest Challenge - JustGiving
We have a long way to go on our journey towards an equitable, diverse and inclusive Oxfordshire, where every adult and child can enjoy being active in a way that works for them. But examples like Enrych's Everest Challenge show how much fantastic work is taking place. We'd love to hear your examples too!
Inclusive Sport Design have some super useful resources to check out: