Disability sport in the UK has been boosted by £8 million ($12.5 million/€9.5 million) of National Lottery funding from Sport England as Britain celebrates National Paralympic Day, one year on from the success of London 2012.
With figures of disabled people taking part in sport at less than half of that of able bodied people in the UK, it is hoped that today’s announcement will further bridge that gap and encourage more disabled people to get active.
A total of £7 million ($11 million/€8.3 million) of the funding will be allocated to the Inclusive Sport fund, which will offer disabled people more opportunities to play sport by investing in organisations with the vision to make this happen, whilst another £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.2 million) will be invested in the Get Equipped programme, which will allow clubs to apply for up to £10,000 ($16,000/€12,000) of funding to purchase specialist equipment for disabled athletes.
British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and spoke of the importance of not only continuing the momentum which has seen two consecutive top three Paralympic medal table finishes for ParalympicsGB, but to get more disabled people participating in sport for leisure.
“This time last year we were hosting the greatest Paralympics ever,” said Cameron.
“We saw record crowds, record-breaking performances and an inspirational focus on ability over disability.
“Now it’s six months until the Sochi Paralympic Games, three years until Rio and today we’ll find out where the 2020 Games will be held.
“Not everyone can be a David Weir, Ellie Simmonds or Johnnie Peacock, but London 2012 ignited an enthusiasm for sport across Britain and this funding will help secure our Paralympic legacy, giving more disabled people the opportunity to get active and enjoy sport.”
One year on from the London 2012 Paralympics, £8 million has been invested in disability sport in the UK
This investment builds further upon Sport England’s aim of making grass roots sport available to all, which has seen more than £157 million (€185 million/$245 million) invested in projects and programmes to get more disabled people involved in sport and their Youth and Community Strategy.
Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said: “Last summer’s Paralympic Games were a real game changer for disability sport but at the grassroots we need to do more to make sport a practical choice for many more disabled people.
“Whether or not you are the next Jonnie Peacock, if you want to play sport, we want to make sure you have access to the right facilities, equipment and coaching.”
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, added: “The Paralympics made people think about disability differently and I want to make sure that we build on that.
“As part of the Paralympic legacy we want to see increased opportunities for disabled people to get involved in sport and ensure we have the funding to support that ambition.
“This £8 million of public funding will go towards disability sport projects up and down the country and provide essential equipment to get more disabled people participating.”
T44 100m champion Jonnie Peacock was one of the stars of the ParalympicsGB squad as they secured a second consecutive top-three medal table finish
The first £10.2 ($16 million/€12.1 million) round of investment in the Inclusive Sport fund was shared by 44 projects nationwide, including Oundle Town Rowing Club in Northamptonshire, whose outreach programme has helped disabled athletes improve their mobility through rowing machines and on-the-water training.
Their rowing club development officer Steve Rustage spoke of the importance of the investment from Sport England and of plans to continue to increase the number of disabled people to benefit from the programme.
“Over the past few years we have been limited to working with just a few disabled young people,” he said.
“With the funding we received from Sport England, we’ve been able to go out into day centres, colleges and schools to help disabled people get involved in sport.
“By the end of the year we hope to have introduced over 800 disabled people from across Northamptonshire to rowing, both indoor and outdoor.”
Sport England is also working with Sainsbury’s- who they signed a four-year commercial partnership deal with last year- on the Active Kids for All Inclusive Community Training programme to improve the quality of sport provision for disabled people in the community.
With £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.2 million) of Lottery funding and delivered in partnership with the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and sports coach UK, by 2016 the programme aims to have trained 10,000 community activity leaders and coaches to deliver sports-based grassroots sessions for disabled people.
EFDS chairman Charles Reed said: “The announcement by Sport England of this latest £8 million investment is great news for grassroots disability sport.
“Coming one year after the extraordinary success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and taken in the context of other important development programmes such as Active Kids for All, this new funding clearly demonstrates the commitment and determination that exists to grow disability sports participation amongst all age groups.”
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