March 09, 2022

Activity Alliance launches campaign to challenge negative attitudes towards disabled children and young people

National charity Activity Alliance is calling time on negative perceptions through its campaign, ‘Who says?'. The leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity wants disabled children and young people to have the same opportunities to be active as their non-disabled peers.

The Activity Alliance campaign, Who says?, draws attention to just some of the negative perceptions that can impact disabled children and young people's opportunities to be active. Activity Alliance's research highlights that there is significant work to do for it to be a level playing field for disabled children and young people in sport and activity.  Only a quarter (25 per cent) of disabled children say they take part in sport and activity all of the time at school. This is compared to 41 per cent of non-disabled children.

Changing perceptions of disabled people in sport

Who says? focuses on four perceptions about disabled children and young people. The perceptions arise from the charity's research - My Active Future report:

  1. Young disabled people should sit out of PE lessons
  2. Disabled people can't be leaders
  3. Disabled children can't grow up to be active adults
  4. Families can't be active together

The campaign is brought to life through four short films. Who says? provides straight-talking and upbeat insight from a mixture of disabled and non-disabled children and adults on what the perceptions mean to them.

Disabled people of all ages have countless personal experiences that lead to marginalisation, low confidence, and inactivity. Who says? empowers people of all ages, on and off the field of play, to challenge their own and others' perceptions.

Kirsty Clarke, Director of Innovation and Business Development for Activity Alliance, said: "We're delighted to launch this year's campaign after two years in a pandemic affecting disabled children and adults the most. Changing attitudes is core to achieving our vision: fairness for disabled people in sport and activity. Who says? raises awareness of negative perceptions that are ingrained in our society. If we want a nation in the future that is inclusive and active, we need to address our own and others' views.

"Everyone deserves the right to be active, how and where they wish to be. The positive messages in our campaign are authentic and give a taste of how negativity is affecting real people. We need more people to join us as we build a movement that pushes for change and fairness.”


Why archery is a great sport for young people with autism

Autistic teenage archer Finlay Clark has enjoyed great success on the archery field, well supported by his parents, Ian and Tracy. Ian explains how participation in the sport has enriched their lives.

My son Fin Clark is an active 15 year old who lives with autism. He attends Wolfreton School in the East Riding of Yorkshire and is currently studying for his GCSEs this summer, whilst balancing his time as a current member of the GB junior archery team.

We started our archery journey six years ago and Fin instantly enjoyed the sport due to its repetitive, routine-based nature. Initially, a weekend father and son hobby grew into a competitive sporting obsession when we both started to compete at a county, regional and national level. Fin grew in confidence and rapidly progressed through the Archery GB Pathway programme and is currently ranked number one junior compound archer in GB.

[caption id="attachment_30916" align="alignnone" width="225"] Ian and Fin share a love of archery[/caption]

Fin has overcome many challenges since starting archery, and in life in general. He struggles with sensory issues, for example: sudden loud noises, adverse weather/rain on his skin and becomes very anxious when unexpected situations occur. He has worked incredibly hard to manage these situations with support provided by his family, coaches and peers within the team. This has resulted in him representing GB and winning two medals at the European Youth Cup 2021 in Romania.

[caption id="attachment_30917" align="alignnone" width="225"] Finlay at the European Youth Cup in Romania[/caption]

Even throughout the pandemic's lockdowns, Fin's dedication was evident by self-motivating himself to shoot when the opportunity arose and improving his fitness by following a strength and conditioning programme daily. Fin also loves road running and is a member of a local athletics club. During the 2020 lockdown, he decided to challenge himself to run a half marathon and completed this in under two hours. Most weekends when not competing at archery, Fin attends Parkrun and has rapidly overtaken my PB.

The charity Panathlon Challenge has supported Fin over a number of years on his archery journey. Recently Fin has volunteered assistance to the organisation as a role model, providing Q&A sessions for schools, and one to one help for children with disabilities, encouraging them with his own personal reflections.

[caption id="attachment_30918" align="alignnone" width="225"] Father and son at the Disability Championships at Lilleshall, 2021[/caption]

As parents we are incredibly proud of Fin's achievements, and he is developing a confidence through sport and maturing with an incredibly polite nature. Fin is looking forward to the challenge of further education and in future, the possibility of a career in the NHS.

Participate in the campaign

Activity Alliance wants everyone to get involved in the campaign and join the movement by posting your own experiences using the campaigns hashtag, #WhoSays.

Share Activity Alliance's Who says? films and make your own to add your voice to the campaign.

To find out more, please visit the Who says? campaign page. Follow the #WhoSays campaign on Twitter.

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