Making your sessions inclusive

Inclusive physical activity sessions ensure that nobody is left on the sidelines.

69% of people with long-term health conditions and 75% of women want to be more active (Sport England). But many lack the confidence to attend a physical activity or sport session. Making small changes to your sessions and how you communicate them can help those who are least active to get involved.

I like that it says "all ages from 12 to 77 years old" and the picture shows that. It gives me confidence that it won't all be skinny 20-somethings.

Female, age 45, Havant

What do we mean by inclusive?

The term ‘inclusive’ is often associated with disability. We use it more broadly to mean an activity that anyone can take part in regardless of disability, gender, race, income or skill level etc. For disability specific information, please hop over to the Activity Alliance website.

23% of the adult population in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. With your help, we can support more people to take part and enjoy the health benefits of being active.

If it could be like £20 to come any two Wednesdays in a month rather than every week then I could probably think about doing that.

Female, aged 18, Gosport

Help people to start

Lots of factors influence our ability or likelihood to take part in an activity:

  • cost – do you offer free tasters or discounts to make sessions affordable?
  • payment options – can people pay in instalments if they need to?
  • commitments – do payment options allow for flexible attendance if someone can’t attend every week?
  • venue and location – is your venue wheelchair accessible and easy to access using public transport?
  • knowledge – do you offer simple pre-joining information for anyone who is worried they don’t know the rules or moves?
  • skill and ability – do you offer separate sessions (e.g. beginner or walking sports) or adapted exercises for those who are new, disabled or building strength?
  • communication – do you communicate all of these things clearly in your promotional materials in a way that anyone could understand?
  • digital access – do you promote sessions using offline channels for those who aren’t online?

Coaches can't just not be homophobic. They need to challenge it!

Research participant, Pride in Our Workforce

Provide a great experience

Communicating well and providing suitable venue access and equipment will enable people to take part. But the people they encounter in your activities will make or break their experience. Think about:

  • your welcome – do you offer a friendly welcome and introduction for newcomers?
  • skills and confidence – are all instructors/coaches/volunteers trained and confident in working with people of different abilities?
  • participant behaviour – do you actively challenge potentially hurtful banter and negative language or behaviour from participants?

5 steps to be more inclusive

  • Audit – Give yourself a rating out of 5 for each of the points listed above¬† (5 being total master)
  • Celebrate – Shout about your 4s and 5s in all the places that someone might find out about your activity
  • Recruit – Ask participants, family and friends to help you connect with non-participants
  • Consult – Work with non-participants to identify improvements you could make
  • Connect – Join our This Girl Can and We Are Undefeatable Hampshire Networks to learn and share experiences with other local providers

Other useful resources

Activity Alliance

Activity Alliance enables organisations to support more disabled people to be active.

Visit site

UK Coaching

Watch the UK Coaching video to gain ideas for making sessions more inclusive.

Visit site

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