It’s never too soon to look ahead to spring when it’ll be time to come out of hibernation and explore the great outdoors. The Outdoor Partnership, a volunteer-run charity based in the scenic Snowdonia National Park, North Wales, certainly agree. Teaming up with outdoor centres around Wales, they run projects encouraging people to lead more active lifestyles. What’s more, they’ve launched a new inclusive initiative specially designed to help disabled people of all ages to get involved.
Room for Improvement
The Inclusive Adventure project was created after Disability Sport Wales revealed that very few people with disabilities were living outdoor lifestyles. The statistic showed that in 2014, 24% of the Welsh population were disabled, yet only 3.4% participated in outdoor sports and activities in North Wales. Fuelled by this, The Outdoor Partnership set about removing the barriers that stopped outdoor activities like windsurfing, climbing and kayaking being fully accessible and enjoyed by everyone.
The plan of action for the Inclusive Adventure project is split into two parts. The first gives a clear framework for sports clubs to follow in order to become more inclusive. What’s more, it then awards the participating sports clubs with a qualification that’s recognised by nationwide sports bodies. By taking part in the project, clubs can achieve four different levels of qualification, from the Ribbon to the Gold standard. Known as the ‘insport Club’ programme, this part of the initiative offers guidance to sports clubs to help them become more inclusive and rewards them for their efforts.
The next part of the project is Inclusive Coach Education. It provides disability focused training for outdoor sports coaches to help improve their confidence supporting disabled participants. Working closely with Disability Sport Wales, the training programme offers a range of courses, from general disability inclusion to sport-specific workshops like accessible sailing or paddle boarding. The goal is to maintain a standard of high-quality coaching for everyone and stay true to The Outdoor Partnership’s mission to be open, accepting and accessible to all.
Success So Far
Since the Inclusive Adventure’s beginnings, they’ve helped spread the word by hosting events including a sporty summer festival for children and their carers. Attended by over 300 youngsters from Special Educational Needs schools across North Wales, the festival allowed the children to get involved with a range of accessible outdoor activities including cycling, climbing and rowing. The co-ordinator of the event, Bethan Davies, explained why the festival was such an important event for the young participants.
She said: “The aim of the festival was to enable disabled children and young people to take part in activities they normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to do due to various barriers. Each activity was modified to suit each individual to ensure as many could take part as possible.”
Onwards and Upwards
Thanks to the success of the Inclusive Adventures initiative, so far it has provided new and exciting adventures for over 1,000 disabled people. The hope is that this number will continue to grow as more barriers are removed with their help to allow people with disabilities to enjoy a healthier outdoor lifestyle.
Find out more about the Inclusive Adventure project by The Outdoor Partnership on their website by following the link.