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Everyone should have the right to participate and experience sport

Everyone should have the right to participate and experience sport

The more impairments a person has, the more likely they are to do under 30 minutes of activity a week and 45% of inactive deaf or disabled people have three or more impairments.

This is a hard hitting statistic, and one that Sense Sport are trying to influence.

As the National Sport Manager at Sense Charity, I’m fortunate to lead a fantastic team who provide opportunities for people with complex communication needs to engage with a wide variety of sports and activities from Yoga, Swimming, Cycling and Football to Boccia, Tai Chi, Boxing and circus skills (to name just a few).

Through funding from Sport England, we have been delivering a two year project called ‘Sporting Sense’ with the fundamental aim of creating demand, and providing accessible and inclusive opportunities for people with complex needs to participate in sport. We have reached out not only to those in our own day and residential services, but individuals in the wider community, many of whom are isolated or left out.

Many individuals we support have multiple sensory impairments as well as additional needs, and sport just didn’t seem to be an option that was considered very often, if at all.  Why? Well, I think this is largely about perception – I’ve heard people ask, how can someone with no vision or hearing really experience sport? How will they be able to understand instructions, or navigate their way around a new environment?  Sure, there are many factors we need to consider in order for the experience to be positive, but this is possible…and actually isn’t too difficult.

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without great people and partnerships. In order to address the perception issues, and confidence that coaches, instructors, and staff may have when welcoming someone with complex needs into a session, we’ve developed our own training, ‘Connecting Differently Through Sport’. So far we’ve upskilled over 100 coaches, staff and volunteers who support our sessions, and we hope to continue to grow this in the future.

Every individual who participates in our programme is different, as we all are, and it’s wonderful to see how each person connects with sport in their own individual way.  What I’m always most proud of however, is the feedback we receive to say that as a result of the sports session, a new found confidence has been discovered, or a connection through a new friendship, or indeed a new environment or experience in a new place which can be explored again.  Isn’t it great to know that for some, sport has ignited the beginning of something new…

Sporting Sense Summit Wednesday 23 May 2018  – book a place

Would you like to learn more about the barriers faced by people with complex communication needs within the sports sector, and strategies that are being used to overcome these barriers?

Are you interested in delivering or supporting inclusive physical activity opportunities?

Do you want to work in partnership across the sport and health & social care sector to develop and promote more inclusive opportunities for sports participation?

If so, the Sense Sport Team would like to invite you to attend our Sporting Sense Summit 2018, featuring keynote speaker GB Paraclimber John Churcher, and special guest Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. To book a place, please visit the Sense Eventbrite page. Tickets are free, but places are limited, so please book your ticket in advance.

To find out more information about the event, please contact the Sense Sport Team by emailing [email protected]


To find out more about the work that Sense do, head to their website here.


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