The disability charity Scope has joined forces with Mumsnet to survey parents of disabled children on their experiences of trying to access after-school activities such as youth clubs, sports clubs, brownies and scouts. These are activities that many children take for granted and create a fantastic opportunity for children to socialise with others of similar age or hobbies.
The results of the survey, conducted by Scope and supported by Mumsnet, suggest that improving the attitudes and confidence of staff and organisers is what would make groups and activities more inclusive for disabled children. Many parents and children are turned away from clubs due to a lack of knowledge which leaves families feeling isolated and desperate.Six in ten parents of disabled children say their son or daughter has been unable to access youth clubs, play groups and other local activities, because they were disabled. This means that many disabled children are missing out on the opportunity to socialise and mix with children who are not disabled.
Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest website for parents, and the charity Scope, are calling on local councils to do more to make local children’s provision, like leisure activities, groups and play centres, inclusive of disabled children and their families. As part of the new Children & Families Bill, the Government is updating guidance for councils on this issue. Mumsnet and Scope say that the Government needs to set the tone for a culture change in local groups and centres, so they are inclusive and accessible for all children and families.
With some organisation and planning, disabled children can happily take part in all kinds of extra-curricular activities. Hopefully with the implementation of the new Children & Families Bill the opportunities for children with disabilities will rise and that’s another step closer to an inclusive country.