Why don’t more disabled people take up sport?


The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) is embarking on a multi-stage project to investigate what motivates disabled people in their everyday lives and how this relates to sport. The aim is to help inform the work of the charity’s partner organisations, making their offers for disabled people more engaging and relevant.

The EFDS’s recent Paralympic Legacy report showed that eight out of ten disabled people were considering taking part in sport after the Games in London. However, participation still indicates that four out of five disabled people are not active.

The Federation is exploring behaviour change models to see if the charity could make a bigger difference in sport. Everybody, whether disabled or non-disabled, have motivational drivers, triggers and lifestyle needs which steer their actions to do most things in their lives. Unless there is a huge motivation to become a Paralympian, which is only a minority of disabled people, then sport and physical activity fits around their lives, not vice versa.
It is still common for many providers within the sport and fitness sector to market their programmes to disabled people as one single target group. There is often not even an age, impairment or gender differentiation.

Barry Horne, the charity’s Chief Executive, believes that greater market segmentation within the broad grouping of disabled people will be necessary in order to consistently attract higher numbers of people with a range of conditions and disabilities to sport. There is “a growing need to develop our own profiles, which represent disabled people as more than just a percentage of society”, he says.

One of the outcomes from the project will be a set of profiles which will highlight the type of sport interventions, likely barriers and communication preferences for different disabled people.

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