"What we know is that girls do want to do it, there is a really high desire for girls to get active."

On Wednesday 24 June, Access Sport’s Inclusive Club Network came together to explore our latest research report, Breaking Barriers: Supporting Disabled Teenage Girls to be Active.

This was the fourth webinar hosted by the network and it brought together clubs, coaches and volunteers from across community sport to hear how they can implement the recommendations from this research and better support disabled teenage girl.

We were joined by community club coach, Amala Poulier and Women in Sport’s Tanya Martin, to share their own experience of working with disabled teenage girls and the impact they’ve seen first-hand throughout their careers.

Led by Kelly, our Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, the webinar outlined the key findings from the research:

  • 67% of disabled teenage girls want to be more active.
  • 53% of disabled teenage girls said they would take part in sport or exercise if there were more opportunities outside of school.
  • 54% of disabled teenage girls feel judged by others.
  • 54% of disabled teenage girls want to take part in sport with other disabled girls.
  • 50% of disabled teenage girls said it would be easier for them to be active if coaches or instructors could adapt activities to their needs.

We shared our Breaking Barriers short film that showcases disabled teenagers’ personal experiences of sport and exercise. You can watch the full video by clicking on the image below.

Moving on to the panel discussion, we handed over to our guest speakers Amala and Tanya. We heard their insights into the research and learnt more about the work they’re doing to support disabled teenage girls to be active. 

Tanya Martin, Head of Insight and Innovation at Women in Sport said:
“What always stands out for me is there’s a huge amount of commonality in our gender as females in sport and exercise – but it’s really important that we understand the differences as well.

What we hear is the myth that girls just don’t want to do sport, that they just don’t like and don’t want to do it – but actually what we know is that girls do want to do it, there is a really high desire for girls to get active. But what is really stark in this research is there is a real disconnect between that desire to get active and your enjoyment of it and your experience of it is quite different.”

Amala Poulier, COREnecting Mums and Boxercise coach said:
“I actually had a little bit of learning this week, which was great because you're always learning as a coach and instructor, but a young person was a little bit distressed in my class and it's never happened before. But the bond that the girls had over this incident was absolutely incredible. It was something that brought them together. They understand each other's challenges and the barriers that they've had to go through to be there, even to get through those doors every Monday, which is just so lovely.”

Mollie Salter, Access Sport Youth Board, commented:
“I used sport as my outlet for my competitiveness as well as to feel good about myself. I have recently joined a powerchair football team. A sport I love but came across completely by chance. Even after learning about the sport, it was nearly a year before I could play. It was only because I was in a position where I could ask someone.”

“I think that people are quick to assume that disabled teenage girls don’t want to participate, so they don’t bother making adaptations or opportunities for them. This research reveals the want and need for sport for this particular group of people.”

If you would like to watch the full webinar, you can catch up by clicking the video below.

What next?

To support community sport providers, funders and policymakers, we have also developed a toolkit that provides guidance on engaging disabled teenage girls in sport and exercise.

You can read the full report and toolkit by clicking on the link below.

Breaking Barriers>

Interested in learning more about the Inclusive Club Network?
Find out more about how you can get involved by clicking the link below.
Inclusive Club Network