The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a considerable and long- term adverse effect on their ability to perform every day tasks. (DDA, 2005). Access and inclusion into sport and physical activity is difficult for many people with a disabiltiy therefor changes must be made to ensure that every person wishing to take part can do so. This could be changing the facilities so that access is better for disabled people as well as modifying equipment and training programs so that everybody can access the facilities.
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There are many schemes in place to help give disabled people the opportunity to participate in sporting activities. The Federation of Disability Sport Wales (FDSW) is a pan-disability National Governing Body of Sport. The aim of the FDSW project is to expand and enforce excellent sporting opportunities for people with disabilities (Disability Sports Wales, 2004). Many studies have been carried out in an increased effort to find connections between disability and physical activity but despite this increased effort problems still remain.
Many young disabled people would like to be included in sporting activities and in a study the majority of people surveyed expressed a preference to participate in a sporting environment if it was organised within a disability sports. (EFDS, 2005). Sports for the disabled still remain an understudied area and should be improved greatly if it is to develop. A development for disability in sport is needed because there are people who cannot participate in sport because of reasons beyond their own control. For most disabled people, their disability is not the barrier and therefore more should be done to overcome barriers that could be easily eradicated (Barton, 1989)
Many health and social benefits have been linked with a physical lifestyle. This is also true for those individuals who have a disability or long term health condition. Physical activity can not only decrease the danger of secondary health problems but can also improve all levels of functioning (Hidde et al. 2004).
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a considerable and long- term adverse effect on their ability to perform every day tasks. (DDA, 2005).
For people with a disability, accessing sporting activities can be difficult as there may not be many facilities to provide for them. Also the sports that they are able to access may not be suitable for them to be included therefore adaptations must be made to the sports to give them the opportunity to participate (Jette, 2003). This should include participation with able bodied participants also. There are schemes which run to organize safe and enjoyable sporting activities for disable people, as well as schemes that look to give access, inclusion and participation in sport for disabled and able bodied people alike (Finch et al, 2001).
The Federation of Disability Sport Wales (FDSW) is a pan-disability National Governing Body of Sport. The aim of the FDSW project is to expand and enforce excellent sporting opportunities for disabled people (Disability Sports Wales, 2004)
This scheme is set in Wales but there are other schemes that work towards promoting and developing disability sport throughout the UK.
This report will look at disability in sport. The main issues that will be looked at are access to take part in sports as well as the inclusion for disability in the sports. With these factors being identified, participation levels for disability in sport will be examined to see what areas of the UK are working towards giving equal opportunities for disabled children and adults.
Rimmer et al, (2006) reported that an investigation was carried out into the accessibility of health clubs and leisure centre for disable people. The investigation studied thirty-five health clubs and fitness services in a nationalized field test in which a new piece of equipment was used. The Accessibility Instruments Measuring Fitness and Recreation Environments (AIMFREE), was used for measuring the ease of access of fitness amenities in the built environment, the available equipment and swimming pools. In addition the information available to the service users was measured along with the facility guidelines, and the professional behaviour of the staff working within the facilities. All the facilities that the test was carried out on confirmed low to moderate levels of accessibility. Some of the deficiencies showed a cause for concern with the Disability Act guidelines regarding the built setting; other problems related to parts of the facility such as the equipment, information, policies, and professional staff (Davies, 2002).
Many studies have been carried out in an increased effort to find connections between disability and physical activity but despite this increased effort problems still remain (Fitzgerald, 2008).
Hezkiah (2005) stated that young disabled people demonstrated low levels of physical activity and perceptual motor difficulties compared to young people without a disability. This low level of activity and motor learning affects their ability to learn. Major barriers to young disabled people include language conception which is vital for following commands, and physical disabilities, which have an effect on their capability to carry out motor skills (Gatward and Burrell, 2002; Gordon and Williams, 2003).
These limits can have an effect on their motivation and add to restricted opportunities for regular involvement in movement, physical activity and sports, which consecutively affects their capability to develop and progress in life.
Finch et al (2001) set out to perceive the consequences of the barriers linked with disability and how it affects their levels of exercise. During the study many questions were asked to the participants were and asked to answer for a range of information, and were then asked to specify which physical activities they participate in. The subjects were asked to provide the reasons preventing their contribution to exercise. No clear inclusion or exclusion instructions were given therefore the reasons would be their own personal feelings.
Findings of the study have shown that 20% of the participants acknowledged that their disability was one of the barriers preventing them from additional physical activity, with half of the participants expressing it as the most important grounds as to why they do not take part in more physical activities.
Current injury or disability was a barrier to physical activity in older people more often than younger participants.
Injury or disability was the main difficulty to participate in physical activity for people who are overweight or obese based upon their body mass index (BMI). This reason was stated more frequently than for those who were underweight or standard weight. Another finding during the study suggested that current injury or disability was a major barrier for people who were inactive compared to people with high levels of physical activity.
The findings suggested the importance to target the support of physical activity available to overweight and older adults particularly to get them active by giving them access to facilities along with the inclusion to the activities. They go on to identify the problems that can occur with disability. They state that a person would stop exercising because of a disability rather than just becoming overweight and not exercise because of the weight problem.
Rimmer et al (2004) recognized a variety of barriers and facilitators that were associated with participation levels in health and leisure programs and amenities amongst persons with disabilities. The results showed that the participants reported 178 barriers and 130 facilitators. The problems identified were barriers and facilitators connected to the built and natural environment along with economic issues. Emotional and psychological barriers were also identified as a problem. The amount of involvement in activities among disabled people is a problem due to a set of barriers and facilitators. Future research could utilize information conducted by Rimmer et al (2004) to develop participation schemes that have a superior probability of accomplishment.
A report from the EFDS, (2005) showed that whilst young disabled people valued sport and recreation opportunities, they do not access their chances for physical activity on a regular basis. Disability is not a barrier to participation in sport and leisure. Regardless of rising guidelines and legislation encouraging improved participation in sports and physical exercise by young disabled people, only a restricted quantity of young disabled people do take part in physical activity. Only a small number of young disabled people can access sporting activities and opportunities outside the activities obtainable inside curricular time which includes after-school clubs, community opportunities, and general play.
The person’s impairment was the most significant factor to be found to have an effect on physical activity involvement. Those with multiple impairments were far less probable to take part than those with a single impairment (Maloney et al, 1993).
The most frequent curriculum sports linked with disability and exercise was Athletics, Ball Games, Boccia, Cricket, Football and Swimming. There are many barriers to participation which included access to facilities and equipment. Improvements in facilities and access to equipment would improve access to sports and recreation opportunities (Williams, 2005)
In studies, young disabled people have expressed a fondness for taking part in physical activity when participating in a sporting environment particularly if it was organised within a sports club specifically for other people with comparable disabilities. With consideration to the type of activity, results showed that young disabled people would like to join in physical activities that young disabled people already participating in (EFDS, 2005).
There are many initiatives set up to give disabled people a chance to take part in sport and physical actvity (Norwich, 2007).
The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) is a proposal that supports the fitness production to develop into a more inclusive plan that can cater for the needs of both disabled and non-disabled people alike. Through a variety of developments, the initiative has maintained facilities across England to produce a comprehensive service which results in increasing participation levels by disabled people.
Parasport is a combined proposal set up in a joint initiative invloving the British Paralympic Association (BPA) and the services services firm Deloitte. Their aim is to amplify participation levels in competitive sporting events. Parasport aims to improve the identification of sports people and aims to support them at a community level. They set out to provide bursaries to assist talented and potentially top class athletes through a joint venture with SportsAid. Parasport is ran by the BPA. The BPA is the body responsible for the elite side of disability sport, although the Parasport scheme is availiable for all abilities to take part.
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Another initiative in place is “The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme” (TASS). This scheme is set up in England and aims to help young athletes committed to improving their potenital by sport and education. Currently there are 50 sports eligible for TASS, of which 16 are disability sports. This scheme is open to people aged between 16 and 25, with an upper age limit of 35 for people with a disablity. The scheme can provide a package of sporting activities to athletes and give them the ability to access high quality training facilities.
An athletics initiative has been launched in by the Sports Council Wales to encourage more children with disabilities to participate in sport. Combined with the Federation of Disability Sport Wales, athletics sessions have been introduced where children can join in with fun sessions delivered by skilled volunteers from Welsh Athletics.
The Disability Sport Wales National Community Development Programme is an initiative set up in conjunction with the Sports Council for Wales, the Federation of Disability Sport Wales and 22 local authorities across Wales. The proposal aims to develop excellent community based sporting and leisure opportunities for disabled people throughout Wales (Hughes, 2009)
Arthur and Finch (1999) said that people with a disability might recognise the physical and social benefits resulting from participating in physical activity generally. However, a failure to recognise specific guidelines on the necessary frequency and extent of physical activity in order to achieve such benefits, particularly amongst older people, contributes to low participation levels.
External barriers that have resulted in a lack of opportunity to contribute in physical activity among people with a disability have been widely discussed in literature (Arthur and Finch, 1999;; Doll-Tepper, 1999; DePauw and Gavron, 2005). Research has shown a range of issues, which include a lack of confidence. With the opportunity to participate, the confidence would grow and give the people a chance to be active.
A Lack of physical and emotional support was also a factor that caused people with a disability not to take part in sport and physical activity. Not having someone to go with to the gym or sporting facility is another barrier (DePauw and Gavron, 2005). According to Arthur and Finch (1999), this poses a greater problem for those people with a disability who need some kind of physical, oral or visual assistance or moral support.
Lack of information was a big factor in reasons to why they did not participate in sport. Arthur and Finch (1999) found that a lack of information held by people with a disability led to low awareness of the sorts of possible sporting activities and appropriate sport facilities. According to the English Federation of disability sport (2000), the lack of access to information has worsened.
Lockwood and Lockwood (1997) and Doll-Tepper (1999) both said that the subsistence of poorly trained service providers, unsuitable activities and inflexible programmes as areas of particular concern. Both Arthur and Finch (1999) and DePauw and Gavron (1995) raise the issue of a lack of available facilities and say that the blame for this is due to cuts in funding. Arthur and Finch (1999) found that poor physical access at existing facilities could present a barrier to the participation of people with a disability in sporting activities, in terms of the inappropriate design of buildings, lack of aids and adaptations to equipment.
Negative attitudes towards disability include those of other facility users. DePauw and Gavron (1995) found that college students held negative and stereotypical attitudes towards the inclusion of individuals with a disability in physical education and sport. Arthur and Finch (1999) found a correlation between the negative and conventional attitudes of other sport centre users. This then produced a lack of confidence and motivation for people with a disability.
National statistics show the lowest participation rates for disabled people. They produced a Taking part and active people survey which showed that 8.8 – 9.5% disabled adults participated in regular moderate activity (Sport England, 2006; DCMS, 2007). It also found that 44% of disabled young people did not take part in regular physical activity (Sport England, 2001)
Research has shown that disabled young people do participate in sport both in and out of school (Finch et al, 2001). However, both the overall rate of participation and the frequency with which disabled young people take part in sport is lower than for young people in general.
There are also important differences between participation in school compared with out of school participation. In school young disabled people participated in sport more frequently than they did out of school. However, this pattern was the reverse for all young people (Corneliben and Pfeifer, 2007)
An initiative set up in Ireland is called “Disability Sport Donegal”. This scheme aims to give children an opportunity to participate in sporting activities. They aim to offer a wide range of activities that include Boccia and martial arts. They develop the programme for inclusion into sports for disabled people. They also look to form a relationship with local schools to include children in sporting activities. With the inclusion within schools they can then develop programmes out side of school and give opportunities to disabled children and adults to take part in sports clubs that provide the safe, fun environment and facilities that are needed to give a wider range of activities to disabled people (Donegal Sports 2007)
Research has shown that many people with a disability do not take part in sport because they don’t have access to the facilities or equipment they needed (Paciorek and Jones, 2001). In addition travel was shown to be a barrier as they were unable to get to and from any accessible venues. Lack of information was a problem for the many of the participants and parents because they were unaware of facilities or clubs offering activities for disability. Organisations were identified during the questioning, including Viva project and RCT Tigers. Viva is a registered Charity that was established in November 1992 to work with young people with a disability aged between 11 and 25 with who live in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
The ethos of the Viva project is to facilitate and support all the youth service members to become fully involved in community activities. Viva believes that this ethos can encourage young people to develop better liberty and make more choices for themselves. The main aim of Viva is to challenge their service members to raise their ambitions while they broaden their experiences and abilities. They try to give confidence to the members to develop greater independence and make more knowledgeable choices for themselves. At the same time they aim to elevate community awareness in accepting disabled people as valued members of the community (Sports Council Wales, 2006)
Viva’s aim is to create equal and respected relationships between disabled young people and their non disabled peers. They look for disabled young people to participate in active community amenities, which they may have been conventionally excluded from because of the stigma and separation that is related with disability. Viva believe that by giving young people the same chances as their peers, people can learn and work together to meet the challenges we face in life.
RCT Tigers FC is a pan disability football club for young children in the Rhondda Cynon Taff Area which was set up in January 2008. It was founded to improve opportunities for disability sports in Rhondda Cynon Taff.
With these organisations set up it is important that extra work is conducted to make them successful. It is imperative because without these organisations people with a disability would not be able to take part in any sport or physical activity. It is also important to develop new initiatives as well as making the existing organisations more accessible by better information and promotion.
With the development of initiatives, disability in sport can develop and give opportunity to people where participation would be difficult and inaccessible (Yuen et al, 2007).
In conclusion I feel that physical activity and sports participation can improve a disabled persons health and well-being. Regular exercise and inclusion in sports by disabled people is as important as it is for their active counterparts. Professionals working with people with disabilities should enthusiastically encourage participation in sports and recreation activities. The relationship of sports for the disabled is difficult. Sports are a rehabilitating tool for integration into society and a way for them to remain active. In addition, sports and disability as portrayed by the media often still broadcast existing stereotypes that erect social barriers for the disabled, in the area of social perception (Barton, 2001)
Sports for the disabled still remain an understudied area and should be improved greatly if it is to develop. A development for disability in sport is needed because there are people who cannot participate in sport because of reasons beyond their own control. For most disabled people, their disability is not the barrier and therefore more should be done to overcome barriers that could be easily eradicated (Barton, 1989)
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