Once a week participation in sport amongst people with a disability currently stands at 17.7%. Evidence shows that just under 2% of the disabled population aged 65+ play bowls. Whilst data regarding disability participation in Bowls is poor at present, this hasn't stopped the BDA including disability as one of the major focuses within our 2013-17 plan. The target that we are working towards is to ensure that by 2017 there are 2,800 more disabled participants aged 16+ playing bowls.
It is important to stress that this is a four year target, and a four year target for a reason. We are aware that there is a significant amount of work to be done and a number of challenges to be overcome in order for us to successfully increase disability participation. Therefore, the initial focus was to ensure that the necessary foundations were in place to give us the best possible chance of hitting that target and, at the same time, being able to make a long lasting contribution to disability bowls in England. With the forthcoming launch of the National Disability Strategic Action Plan (available from this website as of 31st August, 2015) these foundations have now been laid and the Disability Steering Group, which has been set up to oversee the implementation of these actions, will work to ensure that the Strategic Action Plan has a demonstrable, sustainable impact on the sport.
However, whilst these foundations were being laid, progress has also been made in terms of bringing new people into bowls with just over 3,500 disabled participants now playing bowls regularly (figures correct as of March 2017) as a result of attending BDA funded events.
In addition to the National Disability Strategic Action Plan and the ongoing BDA funded recruitment activities, the following major steps have also been made since 2013;
- Release of two advisory guides relating to disabled participation and adaptive equipment and funding
- Creation and launch of an annual National Disability Survey
- Creation and launch of the annual Love Fisher Brown Award
- Development of a closer working relationship between the BDA and the National Disability Sport Organisations as well as Disability Bowls England, the umbrella organisation which represents a range of disability bowling associations
A "disabled participant" is anyone who is affected by any of the following:
1. Vision, for example, due to blindness or partial sight
2. Hearing, for example, due to deafness or partial hearing
3. Mobility, such as difficulty walking short distances, climbing stairs, lifting & carrying objects
4. Learning or concentrating or remembering.
5. Mental Health
6. Stamina or breathing difficulty
7. Social or behavioural issues, for example, due to neuro diverse conditions such as Autism, Attention Deficit or Aspergers’ Syndrome
8. Difficulty speaking or making yourself understood
9. Dexterity difficulties, by that I mean lifting, grasping or holding objects
10. Long-term pain or discomfort that is always present or reoccurs from time to time
11. Affects you in some other way
Further information about these areas of work is available via the Disability Bowls menu on this website.