• Developing an inclusion strategy and program design

    15m 58s

    Kerry Tavrou from Gymnastics Victoria talks about Inclusion Strategy and Program Design

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Thank you. If everyone could just picture that Minion slide again - I’m going to try and keep this as engaging as possible because I realise this is the last presentation but yeah, if you could bear with me for 15 minutes that would be awesome!

So today I’m going to be speaking about developing an inclusion strategy in program design based on what we’ve done at Gymnastics Victoria. So our aim five years ago when I started in the organisation was increasing opportunities for gymnasts with disability and Vic Health and Sport and Recreation Victoria were our two key funders.

I started with the notion that people generally wanted to be inclusive but they either found it too hard, they were unsure how or there was a bit of a fear of the unknown like I had when I started working with people with disabilities.

So step one was changing perceptions and if you could all do me a favour and picture in your heads what you think a gymnast looks like. I’m not from a gymnastics background and these are the images that I had in my head so if I had this issue I thought the general population would generally be thinking this is what a gymnast looks like and for a person with a disability thinking if they can do gymnastics or not the answer would be “No, it’s not a sport for me” so we really needed to consider how we could change perceptions. That was Step one so people could feel like this is a sport they could do and it’s for them.

So we came up with this initiative called ‘Gymnastics for everybody’ which we got real gymnasts from our community to take photos of and put in a series of posters. Now this is Ruby and she has cerebral palsy and it’s really hard to tell which is one of the problems that I had when I was selling this because I thought people with disabilities wouldn’t identify with Ruby because they’d think she doesn’t have a disability so that’s where we had to put in that she did have a disability but we wanted to do it in a way that focused on her being a gymnast and that was the important fact here and we did this for five individuals and Tim has already shown you Roya but we showcased a range of different abilities, ages and yes skill level but it was still about individuals and we didn’t really get that community feeling that is so great about our gymnastics clubs so we did this poster which showcased an easy modification to make and for those people who couldn’t picture someone using a wheelchair in gymnastics I think this is a great example but it wasn’t far enough.

We’ve always had the philosophy and it’s been mentioned a couple of times today if you’re including for people with disabilities why not include for everybody else and that whole ‘Gymnastics for everybody’ idea could really be broadened out to the whole population so we came up with this poster design that really did showcase gymnastics for everybody regardless of a person’s age, gender, cultural background or ability and I think this has really been the first step of changing perceptions of what a gymnast looks like and for us it’s been really powerful not only from our gymnastics clubs for kids to be asking questions about different gymnasts like Roya but also for the sectors that were interested in becoming a part of our sport.

Step two was embedding inclusion in our organisation so this infographic speaks about our impact over the last five years so we embedded inclusion across staff, coaches, clubs and our Board but it’s important to understand value proposition and I’ll thank Dan from Gibsport for this key term.

Value proposition refers to what people are actually going to get out of being inclusive. For some people it just makes good business sense and that’s the way they think. For other people it’s about positive community image. For other people it’s about concern about discrimination and when I sell inclusion to different stakeholders I make sure I understand what they want out of it before I actually go in with an argument because inclusion can be looked at under so many different ways so with our staff we made sure inclusion was embedded through KPIs so our Events Team, we worked with them to create a KPI like this which is integrating special Olympics into mainstream State events. Our Education Team was providing inclusive training opportunities at all major conferences so it wasn’t just me in the organisation waving the inclusive flag. It was actually a part of everyone’s roles and they took ownership over it and them being a part of that was really important but there was a disconnect between what we were doing at the staff level and our Board and what was coming through the Strategic Plan so we decided we needed an advocate on the Board that would sit there and advocate for inclusion. 

This was a really powerful step and it changed things like our mission to have the word inclusion in it. Our Strategic Plan changed to have inclusive goals in it so it was actually a really important step for us.

Our clubs we supported through a set of inclusive club guidelines that spoke about how to provide a welcoming and accessible club so through this we created 22 resources including an inclusive club app so the app similar to the seven pillars showcases the seven areas you work through. There is a guideline that gives you resources on how to get through that guideline like these so the club’s guide to good access. Practical examples that they can just print and use in their clubs but the best thing about it was we used real club examples. It wasn’t the SSA telling clubs how to do their job, it was other clubs who were best practice showing how they’re doing it and that was - clubs were a lot more willing to learn off that approach.

The benefit for us at the State Sporting Association, we were able to see what clubs were being inclusive and where our gaps were so we could be a little bit more strategic with our approach with our clubs. We now have 20 clubs that have completed the guidelines and are recognised as inclusion leaders.

For our coaches we embedded inclusion through training so we created a broad inclusion awareness training developed through consultation with industry leaders from a range of different areas so we’ve had 573 coaches complete the inclusive awareness training and importantly we’ve got 47 people with disabilities in leadership roles within our clubs which is a really important stat for us because it is those non-playing roles that are sometimes really really powerful.

Back in 2011 we had 400 reported gymnasts. We’ve now got over 4,000 reported gymnasts and our goal is by 2018 to have over 10,000 gymnasts within our community. That was until we started an initiative called Aerobase so I just want to touch on program design for a second so Aerobase - this program is an online program targeting schools of children with disabilities. We had over 4,500 participants with disability across three countries and 73 schools so how did we go about it?

Step one was to analyse the need so we wanted to create opportunities for children with disability to participate in gymnastics through schools.

Step two was to consider current barriers to participation. I love it because this is exactly what Michael was talking about before so no. 1) There was no awareness of gymnastics programs from these specialist schools. No. 2) There was a lack of access to clubs, coaches and equipment. No. 3) There was a lack of consistent inclusive opportunities provided to these schools so what were the solutions?

Firstly we needed to promote through established working networks so we worked out who that was and how these schools were receiving information. We then decided to make an accessible and scalable resource without equipment so we identified that an online resource would be good and an aerobics program would be good because it didn’t require a lot of equipment or didn’t require any equipment at all and we used Jane Fonda as our inspiration. An online program allowed us to control for consistency and quality so as you can see we’ve answered all of those barriers.

Step three was to consult to make sure this product was right.

So we asked our key stakeholders that this was actually going to affect, “Would this work? Can you help us shape it? Can you help us create it?” From there we created a sustainable pathway back into our sport because this is obviously an online program so the idea is students work through six free online episodes. Data which is very important for our funders and for us was collected through an online form which generates the access password for the videos and this was adaptable and scalable and we proved that by it fitting into the Sporting Schools framework.

Step two - students enter an online video competition showcasing the skills they’ve learnt so they send a video into us showcasing the skills they’ve learnt.

Step three - selected schools are invited to compete at our mainstream Aero Schools championships so without any further ado I’m just going to jump in here and show you what Aerobase looks like.

(Video shown - text as follows).

“I’m a bit nervous and a bit excited at the same time. I’ve got a few butterflies in my stomach”.

“It’s very exciting to see so many athletes here and I think it’s been a great learning experience and they’re just so excited by the whole thing”.

“Honestly, I’m just so proud of - I’m tearing up! I’m so proud of how far they’ve come. You can see a lot more progress with their moves, with their attention span, with their ability to cope with different environments, performing in front of people. They’ve just come a long way”.

“With the support of the Aerobase clips it became really easy to put the routine together. They guided us really well into aerobics moves that we had to include as well as drawing on the students’ dance program at the school”.

“Has Aerobase been fun for you guys? Yeah, thumbs up/thumbs down?”


“Did we all have fun? Yes, yes we did”.

“To find out how your school can get involved in the Aerobase program, go to gymnasticsvictoria.org.au”

Okay, so what were the key learnings? No. 1 we made all our decisions based on evidence and I’d say that’s a really important thing for us is making sure every decision we make is evidence-based.

No. 2 consultation is really key to program success so for us it’s really important to bring our stakeholders on the journey and make sure they’re a part of our program design and to understand that value proposition that I mentioned. What’s in it for them? Why do they want to be inclusive and that’s going to be different for different stakeholders.

No. 3 is to consider sustainability from the start so before we kick anything off make sure it’s going to work and make sure it’s going to be sustainable in the future so we never fund any direct program cost. It’s always built into our clubs.

Lastly we seek continuous feedback and we try and mould and change things based on that feedback which goes back into that evidence base to make sure it’s exactly what the community we’re targeting wants and that’s it from me. I think I’ve beat the bell but I just wanted to say just on that last point I’m really happy to hear from you guys on what you’ve seen and the way we’re going about things and really open for feedback. That is something that we can really learn from but we’re also really happy to share as well and I’ve got a really good relationship with a lot of the other sports in the room and I think we can really work better together as sports because we’re not competing with each other to be inclusive. For us we’ve got all the same agenda and we should be working together better and it’s not that hard to do.

That’s it!