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 significantly increasing enquiries from PwD, family members, carers and staff from Specialist Schools and Disability Service Providers about what was available to participate in within the Gippsland community. After having a number of 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 participation 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 (https://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 individually register.
As a result of the Covid19 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 the chance to win a $200 sports voucher for their school or service. If a service or school had 5 or more students or clients from the school or service register and record their physical activity, they were automatically in the draw.
A key feature of the challenge was being 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 covid19 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 significant community awareness & inclusion outcomes.
Some examples include:
Win News – https://www.facebook.com/WINNewsGippsland/videos/750071662438798
Tim Bull – https://www.facebook.com/tim.bullmp/photos/a.1586154664975296/2728206690770082/
Gippsland champions posts on GippSport Facebook
Mark Thorpe - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3777261288970509/
Sale To Sea - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3773994862630485/
Kayci Westwood – https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3757605317602773/
Kurt Marshall - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3794271580602813/
Mark Meehan - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3800130830016888/
Ben Greenwell - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3800174110012560/
Brendan - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/photos/a.122390357790972/3814284621934842
GippSport also partnered with one of the regions highest profile disability advocacy events, the Sale To Sea Disability Kayak Challenge. This was 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.
Sale To Sea podcast - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/videos/977939079655309
Sale To Sea Challenge promotional clip - https://www.facebook.com/GippSport/videos/337530324101017
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 increasing 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 huge impact on the ability of PwD to be physically active. Gippsland’s welcoming and inclusive Clubs, Associations and Facilities, were unable to continue their programming and events. This would normally 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. Keeping 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 13 September. The response rate and feedback has 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 been 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:
Pleasingly, we have noticed a number of 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 normal, 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.