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15 Jan 2020
Research project to chart physical activity needs of families with disabled children
By Tom Walker
Research project to chart physical activity needs of families with disabled children
The research will explore the barriers and motivations of families with disability needs
Photo: ukactive
A three-year research project will look to provide the physical activity industry with a better understanding of the needs of families with disabled children.

The ukactive Research Institute has teamed up with national disability charity Sense for the project, which will explore the barriers and motivations of families with disability needs.

It will look at access to physical activity provision, the challenges of families being active together, the impact on siblings with no disability and whether there are differences between community and education provision.

The research project will be divided into two phases, beginning with a consultation to understand the complex needs of families with disabled children in order to inform the development and delivery of sport and physical activity sessions, family days and other initiatives.

Parents of disabled children are encouraged to offer their views on the challenges they face by completing an online survey by Sunday 15 March.

Following the initial research, Sense will establish a national activity programme for disabled children and evaluate the impact of it on the child and the wider family.

The second phase will see ukactive’s Research Institute measure and evaluate interventions that Sense provides for families with children who have complex disabilities and non-disabled siblings.

“The results of this new research programme will be used to create a nationwide programme of sport and physical activity opportunities to help tackle the issue of inactivity," said Alissa Ayling, head of sport and physical activity at Sense.

“We know that children with complex disabilities often miss out on participating in sport and physical exercise, which is vital for staying healthy, learning new skills and making friends.

“It’s our goal to establish more sport and play opportunities for children with complex disabilities to be able to lead happy, healthy and active lives.”

Matthew Wade, senior researcher at ukactive, said: “Our new partnership with Sense marks an exciting new chapter in our work to better understand the inequalities facing families with disabled children who want to be more active.

“ukactive’s members want to create a level playing for all children, with opportunities for every child to be more active, no matter where they live or what disabilities they have.

“Through our research with Sense, we aim to produce evidence that will help make physical activities more accessible for every family and child.”

In 2015, Sense launched a public inquiry into the provision of play opportunities for children with complex disabilities. It found that 92 per cent of parents felt their child did not have the same opportunities to play as their non-disabled peers, while 81 per cent of parents reported difficulties in accessing local play opportunities.

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