Life as a Placement Student at Access Sport "Having the opportunity to work alongside so many wonderful people who are all striving to make inclusion the norm in sport, and even playing a small part in that myself, has honestly been a privilege" Access Sport has had five placement students as part of the team over the last year. They have all made a terrific impact and supported us on our ongoing mission to make inclusion the norm in community sport. We are incredibly grateful for their contribution. Article by placement student, Katie Crook. I first came across Access Sport when I was researching placement year opportunities as part of my Sport and Exercise Science degree at Loughborough University. After learning more about the role and the amazing work that Access Sport do, I immediately knew this was something I wanted to get involved in. I’ve always known how important sport is for improving well-being, personal development and bringing communities together. However, after this experience, I now have an even greater appreciation for the positive impact it can make on people’s lives. Changing Places – BristolMuch of my work this year has been supporting the Changing Places team in Bristol. Over the last nine months, we have worked to create more opportunities for d/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent children and young people to be active in Bristol. As part of this work, I’ve been involved in supporting clubs to be more disability-inclusive. A key factor of club development is delivering training to coaches and volunteers to upskill them in disability awareness. Ultimately, my role was to help them become more confident in their ability to provide inclusive activities to individuals with diverse needs. Delivering the training throughout the year has been a valuable experience, I have built my confidence, communication skills and took learnings from other coaches/volunteers. I was also involved in the development of new training around how to better support neurodivergent people in sporting environments. Seeing the development of this training from the offset and being involved in the consultation phase was such a cool project. I don’t think many other students can say they’ve done something similar! It was especially amazing as I had the opportunity to have conversations with neurodivergent young people and their families about their experiences, what’s important to them and how coaches can best support them. I would love to do something similar in the future. Another big part of my year at Access Sport has been supporting the planning of Multi-Sport Festivals. These festivals showcase what local sport and physical activity is available to disabled people and their families, as well as provide a networking opportunity for clubs and community organisations. Being given the responsibility of organising events such as these has been a fantastic opportunity to build on skills such as event planning, event management and leading on projects. There’s nothing better than seeing underserved young people enjoying different sports for the first time! BMX OutreachAlongside the Changing Places work, I've also been involved in supporting the delivery of the BMX outreach sessions in Bristol. Many of the young people who attend the outreach sessions have little to no experience of riding a bike. It was absolutely amazing to see these individuals become more confident and progress over such a short period of time. My TakeawaysI’ve had a great year and there have been so many learnings to utilise in the rest of my studies and future career. It has been fascinating to learn about the whole journey of participation in inclusive sport. When it comes to inclusion, considerations such as how participants find out about the session, promoting in the right spaces, and ensuring that advertisements are accessible are all key elements. I have also realised how important accessibility and ease of public transport routes are when it comes to accessing sport. What seems like a small detail can make a big difference in reassuring someone that your session is welcoming and supportive to them. There are very few placement years like the one offered at Access Sport. Having the opportunity to work alongside so many wonderful people who are all striving to make inclusion the norm in sport, and even playing a small part in that myself, has honestly been a privilege. Interest in becoming a placement student? Every September we take on a group of university students who are looking to complete a sandwich year as part of their course. For more information contact[email protected] / 020 7993 9883.