In 2017 we continued running our reverse inclusion workshops, an initiative delivered to schools, university and community groups by sportspeople with a disability.
Under this format, people without disabilities are challenged to participate in activities traditionally designed for those with disabilities.
An example is wheelchair basketball, a sport which can be inclusive of people both with and without disabilities. Wheelchair basketball has similar rules to able-bodied basketball and the same court specifications.
By delivering reverse inclusion wheelchair basketball workshops we have been able to create connections between people with disabilities and their communities. Offering a ‘hands on’ opportunity to experience sport in a fun and educational way has not only raised awareness, it has broken down barriers and misconceptions around wheelchair sports and people with disabilities.
Our program is based at the USC Stadium, located on the University of the Sunshine Coast campus, At USC, academics are researching the impact of wheelchair basketball reverse inclusion in Canada and Australia.
Sport not only provides health benefits associated with being physically active, it can have important social benefits.
Yet people with disabilities are often excluded from sport as a whole, or disadvantaged within a mainstream sport. This scenario is often the case in school physical education events.
It is challenging to develop truly inclusive sports because people with physical disabilities may require adaptations to mainstream sports to be able to participate. There is a vast scope for providing more inclusive events, enabling people with and without disabilities to participate in wheelchair basketball is an excellent example of a sport suitable for ‘reverse inclusion’.
We conducted interviews with the workshop trainers to evaluate the delivery process. In this sense, these interviews explored how people with disability actively contribute to leading, shaping and influencing their community through running the reverse inclusion workshops.
We also conducted interviews with teachers, university students and community members who participated in the workshops to explore their experience. One example is John, who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Until he participated in the program, John didn’t see a future for himself in sport. Not only has that now changed, he is enjoying being involved with his classmates in the sport.
As John noted: ‘Thank you for supporting us in Wheelchair Basketball. It has shown me that there is fun in games in a wheelchair. I thought it sucked till I met you guys. I think everyone from Maleny High is thankful too.'
The reverse inclusion program has enabled approximately 340 people to play wheelchair basketball! The program has engaged a number of participants on an ongoing basis, where participants are now actively engaged in regular wheelchair basketball social competition as a result of the program. In the period of 6 months the membership at the local club has had a 30% increase.