Raising Awareness of Inclusion 2. 3.

Keywords: inclusion, volunteers, Raising Awareness, Barriers

Inclusion in sport

The European Paralympic Committee (2015) refers to inclusion as a sense of belonging, which includes respecting feelings, being valued for who you are, and a level of supportive energy and commitment from others.

The concept of inclusion is particularly important in the sport realm, because in adapting sport it is important to gain as much knowledge from those that are directly playing it as they are able to comment on their own capabilities as well as providing great insight into any adaptations or limitations etc. (Conroy, 2007).

Within a sport atmosphere persons with disabilities are presented with a space that they can develop skills such as teamwork, respect, communication and confidence which are all skills that are important in everyday living (U.N Task Force Report, 2003). Sport can also represent a form of low-cost physiotherapy in that it allows individuals to work on mobility, balance, strength etc. (Roy, 2006).

Barriers to inclusion

Conroy (2007) highlighted that there are major difficulties in getting those with disabilities to take part in sport, due to several reasons including discriminatory attitudes of family members who view those with disabilities as an embarrassment, thus depriving them of access to their local communities and facilities.

Conroy (2007) goes on the say that sport is an excellent arena to raise awareness. Sport also provides spectators the opportunity to break their stereotypical beliefs about those with disabilities because the spectators frequently are surprised by those with disabilities exceeding their expectations (Conroy, 2007).

Raising Awareness

There is still a great lack of awareness and knowledge around the abilities of individuals with disabilities. By raising awareness you can provide people with information about the personal backgrounds of those with disabilities, subsequently helping to overcome attitudinal barriers (The European Paralympic Committee, 2015). By creating a barrier-free environment for everybody you can ensure that persons with any type of disability are able to have access to all activities (The European Paralympic Committee, 2015).

England Athletics raise awareness by ensuring that all their employees receive up to date training on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as providing information for clubs, coaches, officials and members to help them tackle inequality and discrimination in athletics (England Athletics, 2018).

Major events, such as the International Day of Disabled Persons and European Week of Sport, can provide great opportunities for raising awareness, from national to local level, about the need for inclusive recreation and sporting activities. These events often attract positive media attention, which can raise awareness across a wide audience (Khasnabis et al., 2010).

Case Studies

Alana, 25
Wellbeing Programme Volunteer

In 2012, Alana experienced a neurotoxic reaction to medication and had to leave university. She made a good recovery but through her experience she learnt how isolating an illness can be, especially as brain injury has many symptoms that are not visible to others and therefore wanted to volunteer with brain injury survivors to help others.

Through her volunteer role, Alana has developed skills such as being flexible, creative, and patient, having an encouraging attitude and being a good communicator. Alana assists the project officer with setting up arts workshops, having conversations with services users, helping them to complete the arts activities, helping them with their lunch and cleaning and tidying up after the workshop. Alana also helps service users with physical activity programs in the gym; making sure they are completing the correct movements; helping them with their balance; encouraging them to take part and assisting them when they need help with specific exercises.

“Brain Injury Matters is a great place where people with different brain injuries and from different backgrounds can meet together to have fun, learn new skills, and make friends. I love getting to know the service users and see them enjoy themselves and grow in confidence.”

“I hope to become an Occupational Therapist. Through volunteering I gained experience of working with people with brain injuries and have observed how the well-being program can improve their quality of life.”

“Volunteering is a great way to help improve the quality of life of people with brain injuries, to meet new people and learn new skills. Brain Injury Matters is a great cause and I would encourage anyone who wants to help those affected by a brain injury to get involved.”


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