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Championing Inclusive Sport In Parliament

10th July 2014 by OnSide

On Monday (14th July), we will be joining Jack Straw MP with members from our Youth Zone Network to help champion inclusive sport to beat the isolation of young people with disabilities, at a House of Commons reception. #ALPFLaunch

The event is being hosted in aid of our A Level Playing Field project, which aims to give young disabled people the rare opportunity take part in sport and play with their non-disabled peers.

Disability charity Scope, in a recent survey carried out with parenting website Mumsnet, found six in ten families thought their disabled children did not have fair access to leisure activities. Nearly 40 per cent of the parents asked said their children never had the chance to participate in activities with young people who did not have disabilities.

Every child, whatever their ability, is able to take part in every activity – from football to climbing – offered at OnSide’s network of Youth Zones, in Manchester (The Factory), Oldham (Mahdlo), Wigan, Bolton, Carlisle and Blackburn.

Lucy Burke, mother of Danny, 13, who has autism and attends The Factory Youth Zone in Harpurhey, Manchester, is a big advocate for the project and said to us recently:

“A Level Playing Field offers disabled young people the opportunity to meet, socialise and do their own thing with their non-disabled peers – in other words, it views them as young people first. This is so simple and so important but, sadly, very unusual.”

Local and Central Government decision makers will be at the event, as well as leading sports personalities such as Baroness Grey-Thompson and Paralympian, TV sports presenter Rachael Latham and Sports broadcaster John Inverdale, who will be showing their support for our project.

John Inverdale told us why he is backing A Level Playing Field: “I’m a great believer in young people being able to play together, learn together and achieve together, no matter what their ability. The reality for disabled people is that life is different and opportunities for young people with disabilities are sadly lacking.

“A Level Playing Field project not only believes in a fully inclusive society, but it celebrates the similarities and differences of all young people. Inclusion is more than a word, it’s a culture.”

Sir Philip Craven MBE has also given his backing to the project. The President of the International Paralympic Committee said: “A Level Playing Field explains in many different ways that each individual is a member of one world no matter what make-up they may have. Everyone should have the right to feel the thrill of playing a sport or sports and having fun.

“It doesn’t matter whether an individual may possess a perceived impairment or not. Sport is for all in the true sense of those words. By giving all young people the opportunity to enjoy sport together, rather than apart, and to excel, this project leads the way in redefining Sport For All for the 21st century.”

As a country, we must take a proactive approach if we are to make leisure activities more inclusive and accessible for all young people. It is our hope that, as our Youth Zones reach more young disabled people and their families, we can help to dispel any negativity and offer a long-term solution to inclusive leisure activities. #ALPFLaunch