Highlighting opportunities created by disability-inclusive sport

A study examining the Flyerz hockey programme has revealed how taking an actively inclusive approach to sport can result in widespread benefit for players and their communities.

Flyerz hockey was developed as part of Access Sport’s successful Disability Inclusion Programme and creates opportunities for participants, coaches, volunteers and their clubs, as well as parents and carers of participants.

The research was conducted by colleagues in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences (Dr Carolynne MasonDr Janine Coates, and Dr Lesley Sharpe) using online interviews with delivery staff and volunteers, and with parents of participants in the programme.

Findings included a recorded positive increase in wellbeing, improved perceptions of disability, increased confidence and social skills, and higher levels of participation in sport and physical activity.

In the final stages of the study Dr Sharpe also spoke with the young participants in-person about their experiences.

The data shaped the creation of a comic shared with all Flyerz stakeholders in an accessible and exciting format.

The comic includes a QR code which provides a direct link to find out more about Flyerz, enabling the research to be used as a promotional tool which shares positive experiences and opportunities with potential participants, clubs, funders, and partners.

Dr Carolynne Mason explained:

“We have followed the progress of the Flyerz programme since 2019. It has been a privilege to meet the coaches and volunteers who have made this innovative programme a success. 

“Hearing the stories of the families who engage with Flyerz reinforces the importance of providing accessible sport for families who otherwise typically have very few opportunities to reap the benefits of taking part in sport on a regular basis.”

Through its Changing Sports programme, Access Sport works in partnership with existing community sports clubs and national governing bodies (NGBs) to demonstrate that inclusive club sport is achievable, fun, rewarding, and essential.

Adam Bone, Changing Sports manager at Access Sport added:

“It’s been great working with the team at Loughborough to demonstrate the impact of Flyerz and to highlight some amazing stories from across the Flyerz family.

“We know that disabled people desperately want to do more physical activity, but they must be given greater opportunities to be active and to be part of sporting communities – we hope to use this dynamic and engaging research to involve new players and clubs in our existing programmes, and to push for greater collaboration with NGBs and other partners in order to make inclusion the norm, not the exception.”