“Why can’t all events be fully inclusive?” – a reflection on inclusion in sports events
Posted: Thu, 29 Jun 2023 11:11
"If we truly want more disabled people to be active, then we need to be far more creative and inclusive with our formats." Andrew Douglas, Found of Parallel Windsor
With 1 in 5 people in the UK (1) living with one or more disabilities or health conditions, there are thousands of people who are impacted by barriers to physical activity, including residents in Oxfordshire. At Active Oxfordshire, we believe everyone should have the right to be physically active in ways which work for them. One of our focuses is to support organisations and grassroots clubs to become more inclusive, so that disabled adults and children have the opportunities they deserve to live an active life.
Challenge events are not always as accessible as they should be, and this needs to change. That's why we are delighted to see that there are local and national organisations trying to challenge the status quo by providing all-inclusive events which are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. In this blog, we're shining a light on some of the fantastic examples of inclusive sporting events and calling on event organisers to look at changes they could make so that far more sporting challenges are open to everyone and inclusive events become the norm.
Bike Oxford and CyclAbility
Bike Oxford is a charity fundraising event which takes place every year, offering participants three routes (26, 50, or 75 miles) to challenge themselves on. Last year, Bike Oxford partnered with CyclAbility to enable individuals who may require a more individualised approach to participate and have done so again this year.
CyclAbility provide a range of adaptive cycles for people to access, including tricycles, tandems, and a wheelchair transporter, as well as giving people a safe, secure environment to cycle in.
On Friday 23rd June, I took part in Bike Oxford and CyclAbility's inclusive cycling event, as part of a Bike Oxford team which has raised more than £800 for Sanctuary Wheels refugee bike project. It's great to be able to participate in an event with my colleagues, raising funds for a vitally important cause but to do so in a way that works for me. If CyclAbility and Bike Oxford hadn't partnered up, I wouldn't have been able to participate.
Enrych Oxfordshire is a local charity which supports adults with physical disabilities to engage in learning and leisure activities. The charity recently embarked on their second fundraising challenge, 'Aim for Space', which was created due to a lack of opportunity for their members to participate in local fundraising events.
As a team, participants worked together to cover the distance from earth to space and each team member was encouraged to cover as little or as much distance as they felt able to and to do so in a way that worked for them. One participant said "the Enrych fundraiser has enriched my life from its first day and given me the boost I needed as well as confidence to step out and walk."
Parallel Windsor, also known as 'The Festival of Inclusivity', offers a range of challenge events for participants, regardless of age, ability or health conditions and share the moto of 'Start Together, Finish Whenever'. People can participate in any of the challenges or just come along to the event itself, where there are number of different inclusive activities on offer to enjoy as a family.
Parallel Windsor have also introduced SuperSensory1k, a new challenge event with the goal to "push conventional boundaries" and embrace 'Sensory Athletes'.
The thinking around inclusion in physical activity is starting to change, and we can see how important it is that families, friends, and colleagues are able to do activities together in ways which work for each individual. However, there is still a lot of progress to be made. That's why we feel it is important to continue to raise the profile of inclusive and accessible events, as we continue to fight inactivity and tackle inequality in Oxfordshire, supporting people with equitable opportunities to be physically active.
By Phoebe Gibbons, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator