‘Engaging the Disabled Community’ webinar 

On April 16th, 2024, Dr. Olesya Zaglada participated in the webinar ‘Engaging the Disabled Community in Movement, Sport & Physical Activity.’

The webinar was hosted by ParalympicsGB and Every Body Moves powered by Toyota. The initiative has been developed to promote inclusive sporting opportunities. It is the new way to discover inclusive local opportunities to become more active. 

The expert panel of the webinar featured Paralympic athletes, members of the Every Body Moves lived experience advisory board, inclusive activity providers, and ParalympicsGB staff, to deliver an interactive session seeking to empower every provider of sport and physical activity opportunities to become more inclusive and accessible across their provision.

The Panel consisted of:

  • Ayaz Bhuta MBE PLY – Wheelchair Rugby Paralympic Gold medalist and coach
  • Luiz Faye – Coach and founder at Kronik Warrior Boxing Academy, the first and only England boxing-affiliated adapting boxing academy exclusively for people with disabilities and learning impairments, sports commentator, presenter, and journalist
  • Nicci Bailey – Athlete community and social impact project manager at ParalympicsGB
  • Baden Knifton – Para sport engagement (Every Body Moves) at ParalympicsGB, founder at Onyx Snowboarding, trustee at Disability Snowsports UK.

The panel shared authentic lived and professional experiences, engaging the disabled community in grassroots sport and exercise, all the way through to elite competition. Providing practical take-away steps that can apply to attendees’ work to make their provisions more accessible to the disabled community.

Every Body Moves powered by Toyota is the grassroots participation program from ParalympicsGB, championing inclusion and empowering the disabled community to be more physically active in a way that suits the individual. Providing the UK’s largest inclusive activity finder and online community hub, in addition to a range of initiatives to reach the three primary audiences of participants, activity providers, and the sector. For Every Body Moves, the program was purposefully designed around all forms of inclusive movement, sport, and ways of being active, so it is not confined to what is included in the Paralympic Games. Large parts of the audience are active for the social aspects and joy of movement.

Nicci Bayley primarily supports in delivering and implementing social impact strategy, but she also specialises in inclusive practice and audience development for disabled communities and how we can provide really inclusive experiences.

Ayaz Bhuta said it is important to educate ourselves, attending equality, diversity, inclusion webinars. It is also important to eliminate all kinds of barriers, including religious and ethnic barriers.

Nicci made a really good example, if for instance, a wheelchair user is facing a building and there are stairs in front of them and no ramp, then that person is just being disabled by that building, by the community, and wider society who are putting up barriers not to provide equal access. And so this kind of differs from the medical model which is focused on physical difference and medical diagnosis. And actually, it makes people and organisations take responsibility for making sure that the world and experiences within that world are inclusive.

The panel emphasised that the organisers need to inform the participants of the event that it is inclusive to attract all kinds of people. Ayaz Bhuta mentioned that it is worth mentioning in every leaflet, any social media post, video, just to remove barriers. And people won’t have questions and they can just turn up and really enjoy themselves.

Luiz Faye confessed that growing up she was quite disengaged with sport. But later sport saved her life, changed her life and it’s changed other people’s. And it is the best thing. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Ending the session, Baden Knifton noted that having this forum to talk and discuss and taking action is one of the best things that we can do. And it is just one of those steps, we do not have to stop here. Always consider every day to be a school day and it’s that nonstop process.

Dr. Olesya Zaglada found the webinar very useful for creating an inclusive environment without barriers.

Link to the webinar recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIO2nzMiGG4