Are there enough disabled facilities and how can you raise awareness about the options?
I found it quite difficult researching what facilities were available to those with physical disabilities. Many leisure facilities advertise that they are open to all ages and abilities so offering an inclusive service. Exercise classes can be tailored to individual needs by the instructor but the support allowing people with disabilities to participate may not be available, this includes space for wheelchairs and bars along the wall for support for example. Visiting these facilities and seeing classes in action and moving through the gym is the best way of finding out if a venue is suited to an individuals needs.
Visiting somewhere that you are interested in or calling to speak to a staff member is the quickest and most accurate way of finding out if a place will be suitable.
Many people prefer to research online as having some information in advance and knowing what to expect can often make them feel more comfortable when trying an activity for the first time.
Specific sports have very good websites telling individuals which disabilities are catered for and how to get involved. Active Sussex have lots of contact emails for those wishing to get involved in sport from primary school age children to adults. They push for investment in sport at local level for all to be included in activities.
Sometimes taking those first small steps are the hardest, so bringing awareness of local health walks and the national couch to 5k campaigns is really important. Having had a previous interest in sports makes accessing the specific clubs less daunting and may show awareness of what opportunities are out there.
To raise awareness of the facilities available for people with disabilities I would contact all of the local leisure facilities and clubs that I have mentioned during this unit and find out exactly what they offer, for who on what days. I would keep this reference sheet up to date and have available for my clients.
It would be useful to advertise these lesser known services in places that are widely used. This may be in a doctors reception area, library on public notice boards. Building online awareness on town council websites where people may request assistance with their disabilities, such as help putting refuse bins out or contacting the council for adaptations or improvements to the home. School newsletters would reach children and their parents.
Any promotional material should be specific about how venues can be accessed, for example how far bus stops or train stations are away on foot or by taxi nearby, how far and is this distance recorded by foot or in a taxi, are there easy drop off points, designated parking spaces, where are the best places for crossing the road/ dropped curbs/ traffic lights. This allows individuals to use facilities as independently as possible. Knowing that there is a friendly staff member that is able to support you once in the building is an extra reassurance should that be needed.
These details encourage people to visit the facilities and try something new with confidence.
In summary, based on my research there are not enough specific facilities available to enhance the health, leisure and sport time for individuals with physical difficulties. However many venues have made themselves accessible to include people with physical disabilities enabling them to take part in general classes, clubs and activities.