- Half of disabled people became less active during the pandemic worsening their mental and physical health.
- New Scope research finds nearly half (48%) of disabled people have become less active since the pandemic began.
- 40% said they never do sport or physical activity, but 91% want to be more active.
To change this, Scope is launching Make It Count, a fully accessible virtual sporting event, to inspire more people to get active and raise vital funds.
Scope, the disability equality charity, has today published new research that shows the alarming decrease in activity amongst disabled people since the start of the pandemic and recommends what needs to change to reduce the exclusion of disabled people from sport.
The survey of more than 1,000 disabled people found:
- Almost half (48 %) of disabled people have become less active since the pandemic with many facing barriers to exercise due to shielding or fears about the risk of catching Coronavirus.
- 42% of disabled people said their mental health has worsened as a result of being less active.
- Half of disabled people (51%) say that their mobility, dexterity or movement has worsened as a result of being less active.
- More than a third (35%) of disabled people feel excluded from sport, citing barriers such as negative attitudes, inaccessible sporting venues, and a lack of trained staff to support disabled people.
- Yet despite these barriers, 91% want to be more active.
Scope is launching its new fully accessible virtual sporting fundraiser Make it Count to inspire more people to get active. It will take place alongside the Tokyo Paralympic Games, between 24 August and 5 September, when the global spotlight is on disability sport.
Unlike other sports challenges that focus on long distances, Make it Count participants clock up minutes doing an active challenge, while raising vital funds for Scope. Its focus is on setting a personal challenge for the individual, making it accessible to all.
Make it Count is designed to celebrate inclusive sport, and Scope is calling on sporting facilities around the UK to make themselves more accessible to disabled people. Scope’s research found disabled people experienced many barriers in sport settings, including:
- 25% said they felt excluded due to a lack of staff /coaches trained to support disabled people
- 21% said they felt excluded due to a lack of accessible sporting facilities
- 17% said they felt excluded due to the negative attitudes of staff
- 14% said they felt excluded due to their local sports venue being inaccessible
Mark Hodgkinson of Scope said:
“By launching Make it Count, we want to create a movement of movers – we want to inspire people to set themselves an active challenge, raise vital funds for Scope and celebrate inclusivity in sport. It could be 5 minutes; it could be 500. Whatever you do to get moving, we are asking people to make it count.
Our research shows that disabled people want to get active and are raring to go but too often they face barriers. As we move out of lockdown, we must not waste this opportunity to improve attitudes, improve our gyms and sports centres and get more disabled people involved in sport.
Our Make it Count fundraiser will take place during the most important Paralympics ever for disability equality. The Paralympics are a time when there is global interest in disability sport, but we know that exclusion from physical activity is still an everyday reality for too many disabled people. The Paralympics only run for two weeks, but Scope wants sport to be accessible to everyone all year round.
Laura Cook, 41, lives in Hertfordshire and works for a charity.
Laura has Nail Patella Syndrome, a genetic syndrome which affects her mobility.
“Growing up, it felt like no one at school was making an effort to include me in sports. In my 30s, my mobility got worse and it was impacting my daily life, so I thought that I needed to do some kind of exercise.”
“My previous experience of gyms and personal trainers were intense and intimidating. When I asked staff to help me find things I could do in the gym and I was faced with these negative attitudes and just felt like a burden.”
“Then I joined a different gym and got a personal trainer and I’ve never looked back. What I’ve noticed is that one-to-one support helps so much and it’s great to have someone who knows you and adapts to your needs.”
“Joining a gym has had a huge positive effect on my mental health. The satisfaction of being able to do something you didn’t think you’d be able to do is priceless. I’ve achieved things in the gym that I never thought I would.”
“For me personally, London 2012 was a complete revelation. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Paralympic 2012 opening ceremony and the atmosphere was amazing. I felt so much a part of something.”
“But I think it’s slowly been forgotten over the years. It’s all very well being a Paralympian, but they are elite athletes. Disabled people who aren’t Paralympians should also have the same opportunities to get involved in sport”
“I really want to encourage others to feel they can do something and not be scared of trying something new – you will find something that works for you!”
Oliver Lam Watson is a ParalympicsGB Wheelchair Fencer.
Oliver was born with a vein condition in his leg that affects his mobility.
“People have a preconception of what a disabled person should be. When I went to get my blue badge, I got denied first time round, because I apparently wasn’t disabled enough to have a blue badge.”
But then I’m ‘too disabled’ to be in the gym. If someone else injures themselves or drops a weight in gym no one bats an eyelid, but if a disabled person does it people think “what an idiot, why did he think he could do that”.
“There are a lot of people who are really insecure about their disability, and if they experience any judgment from people for trying a new sport they’re not going to go back. These are barriers created by society”
One thing I struggled with growing up, was that there were no disabled role models for me, that could inspire me. But media representation has improved and hopefully now the attitudes towards disability have changed a lot.
The Paralympics are an amazing symbol of inclusivity that tell the world that we are all athletes, and that really changed since 2012.
My teammate is world number one. And he was offered wheelchair fencing at school. How many champions could we have in this country if we had more sport to offer disabled kids.”
“As a young disabled person, I always felt like I had to be better than everyone else just to be seen as equal. The only person who knows whether you can or can’t do this is you. So go and find out.”
About Make it Count
Make It Count is Scope’s flagship sports challenge which has been co-produced with disabled people. It’s a virtual challenge where everybody is encouraged to get active in their own way to support Scope and equality for disabled people.
Make It Count runs from 24 August to 5 September – the same time as the Paralympic Games. This is the time when there is global interest in disability sport, but we know that exclusion from sport and physical activity is still an everyday reality for too many disabled people. We want to create a movement of movers - people setting themselves an active challenge to stop disabled people being forgotten.
Unlike other challenges that focus on steps or distance, Make It Count is all about time. To take part you need to:
1. Choose an active challenge to take during the 13 days. It could be anything from walking, wheeling or running, to yoga, dancing or keepy-uppies! A daily challenge, a one off, or anything in between. Alone, or in a team. It’s your call, and your challenge.
2. Clock up minutes. Aim for a target, or see how you go. Whether it’s 5 or 500 minutes, whatever is an achievable challenge for you.
3. Raise funds for Scope. There’s no fundraising target, but if you raise over £100 you’ll get an exclusive Make It Count medal to mark you achievement.
Sign up and you’ll get your very own Make It Count page to collect sponsorship and log those all-important minutes. We’ll pool everyone’s minutes into a totaliser so we can celebrate the collective time that we all spent getting active to support equality for disabled people.
It will be a celebration of inclusive sport and we hope to inspire everybody to keep getting active once the challenge is done.
However you get moving, every minute counts. Start the clock!