48% of disabled children 14-16 years old are "less active" compared to 28% of non-disabled children

To help support this project we are asking disabled and/or neurodivergent teenage girls as well as those with a long-term health condition, to take part in an important survey.

We are thrilled to announce that we have launched our ‘Supporting Disabled Teenage Girls to be Active’ research. Organised in collaboration with Women in Sport, Nuffield Health and The Sweaty Betty Foundation, this new project is aimed at supporting disabled girls to be more active.

Through this project, we aim to: 

  • Amplify the unique voice of disabled teenage girls and young women, that would otherwise be overlooked
  • Identify the barriers that prevent disabled teenage girls and young women from taking part in sport
  • Improve our understanding of disabled teenage girls so that we can better tackle the causes of exclusion
  • Provide guidance to community sport clubs on disabled female inclusion.

Women in Sport’s ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls’ research has shown that too many teenage girls are disengaging from physical activity in their teens. The research also highlights that inactivity is contributing to teenage girls experiencing worrying mental health issues, including being less happy, more anxious and increasingly dissatisfied with their appearance. Disabled teenage girls are no exception to this disengagement.

The gap in activity levels between disabled and non-disabled children increases as they get older. Between the ages of 14 and 16 years 48% of disabled children are "less active" compared to 28% of non-disabled children1.

Through our Changing Places and Changing Sports work, we have observed that disabled teenage girls struggle to find sport and exercise that works for them.

The need for this targeted research reflects the reality that teenage girls are not a homogenous group and often the unique experiences of disabled teenage girls can be lost when viewed through research focused solely on girls or disabled young people.

Helen Rowbotham, the CEO of Access Sport said:
"We are excited to be collaborating with Nuffield Health, Women in Sport, and Sweaty Betty Foundation for this important research project. The ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls’ research showed that too many are disengaging from sport and exercise. We want to ensure that all disabled teenage girls have equal opportunity to access community sport and exercise. This research will be vital to informing our work to make community sport clubs more inclusive for disabled teenage girls.”

Tanya Martin, Head of Insight and Innovation at Women in Sport said:
"Sport can transform lives and give girls resilience, courage, self-belief and a sense of belonging. However, our extensive research with girls shows that far too many are falling out of love with sport and exercise in their teenage years. It is fantastic to be working with Access Sport, Nuffield Health, and the Sweaty Betty Foundation on this vital research to better understand the experiences of disabled teenage girls, to ensure no girl is excluded from the joy, freedom and life-long benefits of sport.”

Sophie Planes, Business Development Manager at the Sweaty Betty Foundation said:
"Sweaty Betty’s decision-making process is informed by our Girls Panel, a group of girls aged 14-18. The panel highlighted how important they felt it was to ensure our work not only focussed on girls from low-income families, but also disabled teenage girls. So, we are excited to be working with Access Sport, Nuffield Health, and Women in Sport on this research project to give more disabled teenage girls the opportunity to be active."

Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Director, Nuffield Health, said:
"This research will provide valuable data to help us understand and identify the barriers disabled teenage girls face when accessing physical activity and sport. Critically, we need deeper insight into the experiences disabled girls face to ensure they aren’t excluded or miss out on all the benefits that sport and physical activity brings. Our ambition is that this data and these valuable partnerships will help build more inclusive programmes and initiatives that will improve the health of disabled girls and allow them to be more active.”

How to support this project

Anonymous online survey

We are looking for teenage girls who are aged 11-19 years old and have the following to complete this survey:

  • A disability or impairment
  • A long-term health condition
  • Are neurodivergent, this is a spectrum that covers a range of conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Tourette's syndrome.

Take the survey >

Survey closing date: Tuesday 31 October 2023.

Listening Labs

We are looking for disabled teenage girls to participate in a group discussion about their experiences of sport and physical activity. Participants will be offered a small financial token to thank you for your time if selected.

Sign up here >

Listening Labs date: November 2023


1Sport England, Active Lives Children and Young People Survey 2021/22