A Charter for Change on Disability

Yesterday was an important day for Disability Sport with the launch of Ireland’s first ever Sport Inclusion Disability Charter.

The charter, which was developed by Cara (Sport-Inclusion-Ireland) in conjunction with Sport Ireland, outlines five key areas people with disabilities are asking organisations to consider in making active and healthy lifestyles possible for them.

As a nation, we can look with a degree of satisfaction at the progress made in Special Olympics catering for those with intellectual disability and, at the elite level through Paralympics Ireland delivering the highest quality of performance on a global stage.

For the majority of people with a disability though it is the day to day that matters most and raising awareness of the barriers to their enjoying an active lifestyle is where the charter hopes to be an effective tool.

Opportunity

“Everyone, no matter what their background or circumstances, should have the opportunity to engage in sport and physical activity at a level of their choosing,” said Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross launching the charter at Leinster House.

“This Sport Inclusion Disability Charter is an important development for Irish sport, which demonstrates the sector’s commitment to increasing the number of opportunities for people with a disability.”

To truly understand what it is like for a person with a disability to be active in Ireland, Cara, with the support of the Sport Ireland Local Sports Partnership network, coordinated nationwide focus groups with people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities where they shared their experiences, challenges and needs.

Over 140 people with a disability who are both active and inactive were asked about their experiences, challenges and needs in relation to their participation in sport and physical activity.

Key Areas

From the vast feedback received, the Sport Inclusion Disability Charter was developed, which clearly outlines five key areas people with disabilities are asking all organisations to consider in increasing opportunities for them in sport and physical activity.

  • Be open to and understanding of all people with disabilities
  • Access training for our people to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities
  • Develop and deliver inclusive activities
  • Review our facility/venues/equipment to make our organisation more accessible
  • Promote the inclusive nature of our activities, in a variety of formats

There is still a significant participation gradient for people with disability and the Charter aims to shift that in a positive direction through greater understanding and awareness.

Money was made available in the last budget for a Sports Inclusion Disability Officer to be appointed by each of the Local Sports Partnerships over the coming year and the charter wil provide a touchstone for the work they do in communities.

“Sport Ireland is committed to the equal treatment of all people when it comes to their participation in sport,” said CEO John Treacy.

“This commitment was formalised through the publication of Sport Ireland’s Policy on Participation in Sport by People with Disabilities last year that outlines strong guiding principles which will make sure that we have a coordinated approach to ensure that the delivery of the sector’s efforts are more effective and accountable.”

Adopt

“The development of a charter is one of the key actions contained in the policy and is aligned with the new National Sports Policy. We are encouraging all organisations involved in the provision of sport and physical activity opportunities to adopt the charter as we look to make Irish sport as accessible as possible.”

Among the first signatories to the charter were the Federation of Irish Sport, the Football Association of Ireland, and Kildare Sports Partnership.

Sport for Business signed up to it last night as well and will highlight the areas in which it is having a positive impact over the next year as part of our ongoing initiatives around Sport for Social Good.

“It is hoped that this Charter will be a catalyst for change which will lead to a unified approach to increasing awareness, increasing opportunities and ultimately increasing the participation of people with disabilities in sport and physical activity across Ireland,” said Managing Director of Cara, Niamh Daffy.

The Sport Inclusion Disability Charter will be presented at the National Seminar for Inclusion which is a joint event between Cara and Sport Ireland taking place tomorrow, the 29th of November in the Castleknock Hotel Dublin.

More information on the charter and the ability for your organisation to sign up can be found at www.caracentre.ie

Image Credit: Morgan Treacy, Inpho.ie

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