During the week of Monday the 7th to Sunday the 13th of September, GippSport encouraged People with a Disability (PwD) to be active and get some exercise!
Due to the Victorian covid-19 restrictions, motivation levels and opportunities for people to stay physically active has been challenged, especially for PwD. GippSport staff received an increasing number of enquiries from PwD, family members, carers and staff from Specialist Schools and Disability Service Providers about what programs were available within the Gippsland community to help everyone get active.
After having several PwD registering and actively participating in our mainstream whole of community Virtual Challenges, we decided to create and facilitate an All Abilities Physical Activity Challenge.
The idea was for participants to be as easy as possible for Pwd to be engaged in the Challenge, with flexible options and supporting resources developed. This included an information page on our website:
gippsport.com.au/allabilitiesphysicalactivitychallenge/, which incorporated a step by step guide on how to register and participate. The Challenge was run over a week, so that schools and Disability Service Providers could be engaged to support their students and clients to participate, and was also open to other community members to register individually.
As a result of the Covid-19 restricted activity directions, we couldn’t have face to face contact with participants. To mitigate this, postal addresses were taken to send certificates and medallions to those that participate as a reward for their achievement. Specialist Schools and Disability Service Providers were also given a chance to win a $200 sports voucher for their school or service. If a service or school had five or more students or clients from the school or service register and recorded their physical activity, they were automatically in the draw.
A vital feature of the Challenge was able to engage with PwD to help us create and promote the opportunity. A number of ‘Gippsland Champions’ were featured as part of the promotion. These champions actively engaged other PwD to register, and in some cases were supported by GippSport staff to be involved in TV and radio interviews/segments (Win News Gippsland, Nine News Gippsland and TRFM). Some Gippsland champions encouraged local MP’s to promote the Challenge through their social networks.
In a Covid-19 sporting landscape where media organisations have almost no sporting content, this was a significant unintended outcome. The platform that we’ve been able to offer athletes and individuals with disabilities to tell their story has had considerable community awareness & inclusion outcomes.
Some examples include:
Gippsland champions posts on GippSport Facebook
GippSport also partnered with one of the regions highest profile disability advocacy events, the Sale To Sea Disability Kayak Challenge. A way to help promote the event using their profile with their members, stakeholders and the wider Gippsland community.
This included a podcast with two of their committee members, a short video specifically to promote the All Abilities Challenge, and a blog piece.
As a part of GippSport’s current Strategic Plan, we want to encourage active, healthy, inclusive and connected Gippsland communities. The objectives outlined in our Strategic Plan have five main pillars, including our commitment to supporting PwD through our Participation and Inclusion pillar.
During the Covid19 shutdown period, where the only form of sport & active recreation that has been allowed has been ‘exercise’, GippSport has facilitated several virtual challenges, encouraging people to get active. Throughout the registration process for these events, we noticed that there was an increasing number of PwD participating across Gippsland. Further, the growing number of conversations our team were having with PwD, their families, carers, schools and services, It was evident that the current restrictions in place due to covid-19 was having a significant impact on the ability of PwD to be physically active. Gippsland’s welcoming and inclusive Clubs, Associations and Facilities, we’re unable to continue their programming and events. This would generally provide that outlet for physical activity in a fun and supportive environment.
Since March/April when restrictions commenced, GippSport has endeavoured to stay engaged with PwD, local services and schools providing resources and information on how to keep active, e.g. at-home activity, virtual programs, activity flashcards etc. Maintaining relationships through this tough time has been a positive way for us to provide support and search for community needs.
GippSport’s All Abilities Physical Activity Challenge ended on Sunday the 13th of September. The response rate and feedback have been absolutely incredible and well and truly exceeded expectations. It shows that there has been a real need for PwD to be engaged in physical activity, and for many, this Challenge was the motivation they needed to get active. Outcomes of the event:
GippSport will be further evaluating the outcomes on participants in the challenge across a range of individual self-efficacy measures, namely:
Awareness of opportunities for them to engage in physical activity
Confidence to engage in physical activity
Awareness of tools and supports available for individuals to be physically active
Knowledge and skills to be physically active
Readiness to be physically active.
Pleasingly, we have noticed several other unintended outcomes from the program. The platform that we’ve been able to provide participants, and in particular the challenge ‘champions’ has resulted in fantastic levels of ongoing community engagement. The services & specialist schools that support the individuals have informed us that the Challenge has inspired them to be more active than usual, particularly within the restrictions at that time.
Over 30 individuals outside of the services and schools registered and were actively promoting their activity by sending photos and videos via social media and to GippSport staff directly. Again, community engagement increased significantly with participants actively wanting to showcase themselves being physically active.
Due to the overwhelming response, GippSport will be facilitating a follow-up challenge over social inclusion week 2020.