The ‘My Active Future’ report, released by Activity Alliance in March 2020, investigates the differences in experience and perceptions of sport and physical activity among Disabled and non-Disabled children. This includes their attitudes, enjoyment and participation, as well as their barriers and motivations. My Active Future calls for more commitment from every sector in society to ensure all children and young people benefit from an active lifestyle.
The new findings reinforce the activity gap between Disabled and non-Disabled children. Disabled children are less active than their peers, and experience more barriers. They are less likely to enjoy being active in and out of school, and are less likely to be included in PE and games. Worryingly, this exclusion could lead to Disabled children more likely to be lonely and socially isolated.
The findings include:
- One third of Disabled children take part in less than 30 minutes of sport and physical activity per day. 30% of Disabled children are ‘less active’ compared to 21% of non-Disabled children (take part in less than 30 minutes of sport and physical activity per day during term time.)
- Disabled children’s activity levels decrease significantly, as they get older. Activity levels for Disabled and non-Disabled children are similar when they first start school (Key Stage 1 83% during term time compared to 84%). By age 11, Disabled children are less likely to be ‘active or fairly active’ (Key Stage 2 – 77% vs 85%). The gap widens more significantly by the time they are 16 (Key Stage 4 – 52% vs 72%).
- Disabled children are twice as likely to be lonely compared to their non-Disabled peers (72% vs 36%). They are more likely to feel they have no one to talk to, feel left out, and to feel alone.
- Disabled children are motivated to take part in sport and physical activity to feel a sense of belonging and be more independent.
- Nine in ten parents of Disabled children say their child’s level of physical activity is important to them. Yet, less than half of parents with Disabled children feel they have enough support to help their child to be active.
- Only a quarter (25%) of Disabled children say they take part in sport and activity all of the time at school, compared to 41% of non-Disabled children.
- Disabled children are less likely than non-Disabled children are to be active at a park, leisure centre or friend’s house.
- Worrying about getting hurt, how they look and not knowing what to do stops many Disabled children being active.
Disabled children and young people, aged 5 to 16 years, and their parents and guardians were involved in the report. A total of 760 Disabled children and parents took part in the online survey, along with more than 900 non-Disabled children and their parents. This allowed a comparison of experiences, pinpointing gaps in opportunities and support.
Despite the difference in participation and enjoyment, there is less difference between what Disabled and non-Disabled children want to do more of. This shows there is work to do in many settings to include Disabled children, and to ensure quality experiences.
The report suggests and outlines the below recommendations:
- Engage with and listen to all children
- Build confidence and independence from a young age
- Engage leaders on the need for inclusion and show how to create comfortable environments
- Support and encourage parents to help their child to live an active life
Download the full recommendations and report here www.activityalliance.org.uk/myactivefuture
Join the conversation with #MyActiveFuture on social media.