Disability sport and exercise
This is a brief introduction to disability sport and also includes contact details for disability sport groups and organisations. The benefits of taking part in regular exercise are well known. However, we would always recommend consulting with your GP or medical expert before undertaking any change in your lifestyle.
Access to leisure centres
Most local authority and private health facilities have excellent amenities for disabled people. However, it is always worth contacting groups and centres in advance to check access arrangements. Some leisure centres in particular have leaflets highlighting services and facilities for disabled people.
Benefits and advantages of exercise
The physical and psychological benefits of exercise can also be experienced by disabled people. In addition to feeling good, raising self-confidence, promoting better health and possible improvement in ability, sport and exercise can also bring added benefits such as social interaction and friendship. Sports and exercise clubs, groups and facilities often organise social outings and group training opportunities.
Tom, an athlete with cerebral palsy who represents Great Britain in wheelchair fencing, says; “Being involved in wheelchair sports has given me lots of opportunities to meet new people and travel, and to represent my country at international events at home and abroad. Sport has given me a level of self-belief and confidence and enabled me to use my talent to the best of my abilities.”
Sport and classification
Sporting opportunities for disabled people are many and varied. Most current sports will have a disabled equivalent. Popular sports include football, swimming, athletics, tennis and basketball to name a few. Specialist sports for people with cerebral palsy include Boccia, CP soccer and polybat.
Disability sports often use a functional or medical classification system to ensure participation is fair and equitable. Indeed some sports are limited to particular types or conditions of disability. The Parasport website offers a classification ‘wizard’, which will inform you which sports you may be able to participate in depending on the level of your impairment.
Disability sport ranges from entry level to international competition with many layers in between. Many disabled sports people take part as a hobby or interest, some even compete professionally at the highest levels. Certainly there is a sport and a place for everyone. You may find that you cannot participate in the sport or exercise of your choice due to the level of your impairment, but you should still be made welcome and could consider assisting in the running and administration of sport through committees, officiating and volunteering. Many retired disabled athletes go on to take part in coaching and managing disability sport.
Sport: further information
Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI)
An organisation dedicated to making fitness facilities more accessible for disabled people. The website features an accessible gym finder.
Tel: 0114 257 2060
CP Sport England and Wales
Promotes and seeks to increase sport and physical recreational opportunities for disabled people, especially those with cerebral palsy.
Tel: 0115 925 7027
A website designed to signpost disabled people and those interested in disability sport to local and national clubs and sporting opportunities.
Tel: 020 7842 5789
Wheelpower (formerly British Wheelchair Sports Foundation)
Based at Stoke Mandeville, Wheelpower organises and supports wheelchair sports at all levels, and provides events for junior, senior and rehabilitation purposes.
Tel: 01296 395995
British Paralympic Association (BPA)
The BPA is a registered charity which is responsible for selecting, preparing, entering, funding and managing Britain's teams at the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games. They also operate talent identification days to find the disabled sporting stars of the future.
Tel: 020 7842 5789
English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS)
The EFDS is responsible for the promotion and development opportunities for all disabled people in England.
Tel: 01509 227750
Disability Sport Events (DSE)
DSE was created to provide sporting opportunities for all impairment groups allowing disabled athletes to follow sports development pathways and reach their individual potential.
Tel: 0161 953 2499
International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS)
Founders of the original Paralympic Games and organisers of international sporting events for disabled people.
Tel: 01296 436179
Boccia is a Paralympic sport for people with physical disabilities and also a Special Olympic sport for people with learning disabilities.
Tel: 01223 522869
Disability Snowsport UK
Promoting equality and opportunities for disabled people to take part in snowsports.
Tel: 01479 861272
Contact Scope Response for more details.
This information was last reviewed March 2013.
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