What does Equity in Canadian Sport Look Like?


(Doug Gore) #1

Millions of Canadians participate in organized sport … far more don’t. Why? We have programs to improve the quality and relevance for targeted groups, initiatives to engage audiences that have proven to have barriers (e.g. girls & women, low-income families, racialized, rural & remote, indigenous, etc.), a mountain of research that supports the many benefits, policies that encourage and often mandate inclusive participation, and on, and on, and on. But are our systems, at their core, inequitable?

As examples, here are a couple of recent articles exploring investment in indigenous sport and the emergence of an all-girls’ baseball league.

Over the coming months, we will dive into these issues and explore this question: What would it look like if our sport system reflected the breadth and depth of Canada’s diversity?

We need your voice.

(Jonathan Wood) #2

Our aim is to encourage people with disabilities to become active, stay active and participate more frequently in accessible sports and recreation. We know (as they are well researched and documented) the numerous barriers to participation that people with disabilities face in pursuing an active lifestyle. Since we work with children and youth all the way up to seniors we know that every stage there are numerous people who act as ‘gatekeepers’ to participation. For children and youth it’s parents, for adults it’s self-advocacy, and in seniors it can become care givers. In each case the targeting and messaging is different but the intent is the same, to encourage and keep the individual active. We are also looking at breaking down additional barriers (cultural, gender and geography) within the disability sector. Finally, the discussion (in some cases debate) over language. Inclusive, adapted, para, all abilities… they all ‘try’ to define or accommodate a group of individuals that have broad needs. In the end all these elements make up Equity.

(Ikem Opara) #3

Thank you for your response Jonathan. The point you raise about ‘gatekeepers’ is an important one. My sense is that part of path to success would include supporting, educating and challenging these gatekeepers until we turn them into enablers and advocates. Can you say more about how you are breaking down those cultural, gender and geographic barriers within the disability sector? This is one of the crossover points with my work on inclusion so I’m quite curious about what has been successful and where we still need work.

(Jonathan Wood) #4

I used the term ‘gatekeepers’ quite intentionally. On one hand they ‘prevent’ the child from participating, often for a number of reasons/barriers. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Awareness
  2. Cost
  3. Transportation

These we call the Big 3.

Then we move on to the ‘perceived’ risks associated with their child participating. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Safety
  2. Social integration
  3. Lack of physical literacy

These ‘fears/concerns’ of the parents are exactly what you describe as being the are in which we can make a real difference by turning them into enablers and advocates through education and awareness.

These are many of the challenges we at TASC are focusing on in our attempt to get more Torontonians living with disabilities active. When it comes to children & youth we know that the earlier we start the more likley they are to stay active. The Active for Life movement is even more important for those living with disabilities as it helps both physically and emotionally but also to help stave off secondary health ailments attributed to sedentary lifestyles.

(Doug Gore) #5

Thanks Jonathon. This helps me to think about the audiences who we really need to understand and engage - the gatekeepers - that are rarely, if ever, considered as the primary target. I think we have a tendency to focus on the audience with barriers by designing programs, communications, and other mechanisms, when they are generally not the decision-maker.

(Jonathan Wood) #6

Absolutely right Doug. And, as you know, modelling behaviour is so important. Can’t say how many times I’ve heard the rates of children and youth whose parents are active increases their chances of being and staying active themselves. My assumption (though I don’t believe any research has yet been done in this area) is that the activity levels of parents whose children have disabilities would and does also influence the levels at which their children participate. I’ll have to our friends at the CDPP to start on that!