Check out Claire Danson advice to breaking down the barriers to being active for those with a disability

Claire’s 5 barriers too participating in sport for those with a disability
When you read these barriers I have no doubts that many of them can be applied to exactly the reasons that able-bodied people also find themselves unable to participate in sport as well.

Access – The primary barrier to participation for someone with a disability is whether or not there is the physical means for them to be able to participate in the activity. This is getting better with many accessible sporting facilities opening but there are still a number of venues that make it difficult for certain groups to participate. The great thing about the Give me 5 initiative is that it is accessible as the person becoming involved needs it to be. There is no set place for it to be completed so the person can choose the best terrain and venue for them.

Specialist equipment– There are many sports that people with a disability can only take part in if they have the specialist equipment to do so. The first issue here is whether that equipment is available. The second is that this equipment can leave the user feeling embarrassed if they have to use it in front of others. For example, I have to use a special chair to get in and out of the swimming pool. It is a bit of a palaver and I feel a bit self-conscious but the truth is that no one cares about what I am doing because they are all too interested in doing their own thing. Again, the Give me 5 initiative requires no specialist equipment other than what a person with a disability might need in their everyday life anyway.

Fear or anxiety– This may be fear around the activity itself but it is more likely to be anxiety around exposing themselves in front of other people. Allowing other people to openly see their disability and struggles may be something that causes a disabled person too much distress to take part. This is not an easy thing to overcome but if we can get more disabled people to be involved with sport and to take part alongside able-bodied people then this stigma will be lessened. I believe that this is a responsibility on both those with a disability and those who are able bodied. Those with a disability must be brave and be proud to show what their amazing bodies can do and not worry about what they can’t (very easily said and less easily done). Those who are able bodied must be welcoming and find ways to be fully inclusive.

Social Circles – There are certain activities that someone with a disability may not be able to do on their own but may need a friend to join them for. This might provide a barrier as they may not know who to ask or may not want to impose on their friends. However, my experience is that my friends enjoy exercising with me and are very happy to do so. This barrier can be overcome by speaking to your friends and having those in your circle that you know you can call on to go out with you.

Time– Some disabilities mean that every day activities can take a lot longer to complete than they would do for an able-bodied person. It may result in the belief that they do not have time to take part in exercise or that it would take so much time to get ready that it wouldn’t be worth it. I suspect time is a big factor as to why able-bodied people don’t exercise either. However, allowing time to exercise is vital and is ok. My experience is that the hassle is always worth it. Plus, each time I do something the preparation to take part takes less and less time. With practice it will take me no longer to get ready to swim than it would an able-bodied person. The way to overcome this barrier is to plan your time. Factor exercise into your day when you are planning what you need to do that day and make it a priority until it becomes a routine.

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