Monday, June 13, 2011

A road trip of disability sport discovery

Disability Sport Wales

Michelle Daltry of Disability Sport Wales tells us how Welsh sport is set to be more inclusive to disabled people:
In March 2011, Jon Morgan -Executive Director of Disability Sport Wales - and I set out on a road trip across Wales to present the new partnership agreements for 22 Local Authorities in Wales. 
In all honesty, despite my enthusiasm for the partnership agreements and roadside cafes, I was a little concerned that by the end of a few thousand miles cris-crossing Wales for hours in a car with Jon, his jokes and observations - life may begin to run a little dry!
We started our meetings with an early start from Cardiff to my homeland of North Wales, with Gwynedd, Anglesey and Wrexham hosting us.  Later that same evening,  we returned home tired but very excited after hearing some of the most positive and powerful messages from our local authority partners around the need for inclusive practise within their programmes. 
And by the time we had completed all 22 meetings, it became very clear that the future for disability sport in Wales is very bright and one that is shared right across Wales.
insport is the brainchild of the Disability Sport Wales team.  Inspired by the Australian Sports Commission Disability Sport unit’s model, Sports Connect, insport aims to support our key partners across Wales to encourage everybody to think about how disabled people can be involved in all aspects of sport – from participating to coaching or volunteering. 
The insport programme has three strands – National Governing Bodies of Sport, Local Authorities (Development) and Club.  Each one of these packages has a Ribbon, Bronze, Silver and Gold pathway and through the Disability Sport Wales team each of these key groups will be given all the support needed to help embed inclusive thinking in all elements of their work.
While we were on our cross country tour we were hoping to inspire a few local authorities to help us design and pilot the package for insport development.  What we were actually met with was unanimous support for the programme and more local authorities wanting to be involved than we could actually manage!
Caerphilly even approached us before we had  actually met them!!  The task of narrowing these down to a manageable group was completed after much deliberation and Wrexham, Conwy, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Newport, Torfaen and Caerphilly were last week announced as the seven local authorities helping to lead the way on developing fully inclusive sports development programmes. 
The first insport development group meeting will be held within the next few weeks, with the intention  of supporting all 22 Local Authorities to achieve at least the Ribbon standard by 2013.   
In the meantime, work behind the scenes is well underway to identify the next five National Governing Bodies of Sport to join insport trailblazers Welsh Athletics and Welsh Rowing who have already achieved the ribbon award. 
And whilst all this is going on, the 22 Disability Sport Wales Development Officers across Wales are hard at it supporting the insport club programme  to deliver appropriate sporting opportunities for all disabled people, bringing together the final key pieces of the inclusion puzzle.
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