BADIG Campaign: Promote Participation
We are fortunate to live in a society which offers a wide range of opportunities for
participation in social, sporting and cultural activities. In the past, parrticipation in theseactivities was not always easy for people with disability. Not only were there often physical obstacles, such as lack of disabled access to buildings such as gyms, museums, etc., but also disabled people sometimes encountered a negative attitude among organisers and other participants.
Thankfully, things have improved greatly, especially in removing physical barriers. Today gyms and other public buildings are required by law to be accessible to people with disability and a wide range of sports have been adapted to suit the particular needs of disabled players. As an example, blind tennis is one of the fastest growing sports among people with disability and Ireland has a world class international team.
Great progress has also been made in changing attitudes to the participation of disabled people and they are generally welcomed and accomodated. BADIG believes that this is a very important part of the process of normalising disability, i.e. creating a society where a disabled person is no longer treated as an outsider but is embraced as a full citizen, enjoying all the benefits of our community.
BADIG believes that it is important that this message of inclusivity is promoted to children and young people and we launched an initiative to this end in September 2019 with our ‘Normalising Disability’ conference. We planned to follow this with visits to local schools and youth clubs to demonstrate disabled sports and activities in practice and promote participation among young disabled people. The current restrictions around COVID-19 have impacted this planned roll-out but we will resume as soon as we can.
In addition, we have a number of key messages for the local community, including:
To try to be open-minded and welcome people with disability especially when meeting them in unusual places such as a gym.
To not make judgements about a person’s ability based on how they look. Not all disabilities are immediately obvious. And our abilities might surprise you!
Not to be reluctant to offer help or advice. A first visit to a new venue can be daunting and disabled people welcome help and support like any other new member. If unsure as to how to help, ask us – we won’t bite!
We also think that people with disability need to be encouraged to take the first step in trying a new activity. It’s not easy to move outside our comfort zone but there is a great world out there for the enjoyment of all of us!