The RYA is welcoming the launch of a UK-wide disability inclusion campaign and highlighting the benefits of sailing for all participants.
The Activity Alliance’s Who Says? campaign is calling time on negative perceptions about disability, inclusion and sport.
It was created in response to the national charity’s recent research, which explored people’s attitudes on inclusive activity and found that a lack of understanding could be creating long-lasting barriers for people with disabilities.
The findings of the research showed a general lack of awareness, inexperience and unfamiliarity with disabled people although there was a good awareness that sport should be for everyone.
Non-disabled respondents also recognised that they could benefit from taking part in inclusive activities.
However, non-disabled people were concerned about the negative impact taking part together may have on the wellbeing of disabled people.
The top three concerns were that they may patronise disabled people (53%), disabled people may get hurt (47%) or that they may say something inappropriate (37%).
The aim of Who Says? is to empower people to challenge their own and other people’s perceptions through a series of short films.
RYA safeguarding and equality manager Jackie Reid said: “The research shows that certain perceptions around disability in sport should be challenged and it is time for an awareness raising initiative like the Who Says campaign.
“At the RYA we operate on the basis that sailing and boating are open to anyone, no matter what their age or disability and our aim is to facilitate the inclusion of all sailors, whether they want to compete or just have fun on the water.”
The RYA says all of its clubs and training centres should be able to respond appropriately to an enquiry from someone with a disability, and discuss whether they are able to make reasonable adjustments to meet that individual’s needs.
Sailability is the RYA’s national programme in the UK giving people with disabilities the chance to try sailing and to take part regularly.
The British network of more than 200 RYA-approved sailability sites have boats and facilities to cater for people across the whole spectrum of abilities.
RYA sailability manager Joff McGill said: “Challenging perceptions can make a real difference to whether people can get out on the water or not.
“With over 200 locations across the UK, it is easy to get on the water near you and staff and volunteers across the sailability programme are committed to open and positive conversations about what it takes to get each person sailing.
“There are so many benefits – being active, improving wellbeing, new social connections and learning new skills.”
To find out more about sailing opportunities for disabled people, or those that need specific support to get on the water, visit the RYA’s sailability programme web page.