As we celebrate Disability Awareness Day, Lisa McGuigan, Inclusive Sports Project Manager at YMCA England, talks about what our sports programme, YMCA OnSide, is doing to help young people with disabilities all over England…
YMCA England is currently delivering an all-inclusive sports programme called OnSide focused on supporting young people with disabilities to get into sport.
OnSide puts young people and their families at the heart of their club’s delivery right through from planning activities to involving the young people, parents and siblings in leading their own sporting activities.
YMCA England manages the project on behalf of Sport England and delivers it through the following YMCAs:
- Nottingham YMCA
- YMCA North Staffordshire
- YMCA North Tyneside
- Plymouth YMCA
- East Surrey YMCA
- Southend YMCA
- Tees Valley YMCA
And put simply, what we want to achieve at OnSide is this: “To support young people with disabilities, offering a diverse range of activities that will challenge old fashioned perceptions of sport for disabled people in an all-inclusive environment.”
Our YMCAs provide more than 90 hours of activities a week to young people alongside their friends and families.
These activities range from traditional sports, like football and tennis, to non-traditional pursuits such as rock climbing, kayaking, rambling, cycling and mountain biking. As well as getting young, disabled people to play sport, the project also aims to get disabled volunteers working alongside their non-disabled peers to develop sports leaders and create a more inclusive environment in the wider sports sector.
Some YMCAs run sessions that are specifically designed to provide opportunities for the whole family to attend. At YMCA Nottingham, for instance, they run sessions at the soft play centre for families and, at YMCA Plymouth, they run a multi-sport session on a Sunday morning. This provides young people with the opportunity to try the trampoline, play various ball games, take part in rock climbing and have a go on a bouncy castle. These sessions are open to the whole family, meaning parents and siblings come along to take part and, most importantly, they are focused on being fun and inclusive.
So far, I have to say that the clubs are proving very successful!
By March 2015, YMCA OnSide had engaged with 4,732 young disabled people, almost 1,700 above our target AND with a full year to go. Thank you to everyone who has been involved already, but our success doesn’t stop there. Volunteers are another area where YMCA OnSide excels with 507 volunteers supporting sessions to be delivered. This includes both disabled and non-disabled volunteers.
YMCA OnSide now has a proven track record in supporting young, disabled people and their families and we are so proud of what we have achieved. With another year of funding to go, we expect many more people, groups and individuals to get involved and show the country that sport is for everyone, regardless of their ability or disability.
Find out more about OnSide here.
“The sessions help improve his self-esteem. He has got a lot fitter, he is interacting with other children and he is more relaxed because he has blown off some steam” – a parent’s view of OnSide.