A Sporty side to to Disabled Access Day!
On Saturday 16th March, Sportscotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde in Largs opened its doors for the first time to welcome visitors on Disabled Access Day. The aim of Disabled Access Day is to encourage disabled people and their families and friends to visit somewhere new. This could be something as simple as visiting an adventure playground for the first time.
The idea is to allow people to explore places and venues that they would previously not have visited due to lack of accessibility or a lack of knowledge that somewhere might be accessible to them. This was the first time that Inverclyde sports centre had participated in Disabled Access Day.
The centre was built in 2016 as the UK’s first residential sports centre of its kind and was designed for inclusivity. For that reason the centre was built with accessibility in mind. When Micheal, Connor and I arrived at the centre in the morning we were shown around the centre by the Business Development Manager pauline Kerr. Pauline was very informative and told us about the history of the centre and how the new layout was built. we were also shown upstairs where there are sixty accessible bedrooms complete with hoists and an adjoining or twin room to accommodate a personal assistant. Upstairs there are also meeting rooms which can wirelessly connect to one another for larger groups.
In the afternoon we were taken to the multi-use sports hall and Gym to see what was on offer. Two of the sports coaches Chris and Euan helped us to play archery and Boccia. This was great fun and everyone took in turns to play. Everyone had fun trying out these new sports together, some of us for the first time and the staff at inverclyde were very helpful. Later on in the afternoon we were shown the new gymnasium, the gymnasium contains some accessible equipment for disabled athletes.
We were also able to make a few suggestions of adaptations that might be made to make existing equipment more accessible and some new equipment that might be invested in in the future. The staff were quite receptive of our suggestions.
There are a few areas where I felt the centre could improve on disabled access day. Apart from one announcement on a digital notice board and some balloons at the reception desk there was very little publicity around disables access day itself, either in the centre or in the local town. I feel that had it been more widely publicised, more people would have been able to come and enjoy the sports. Finally I feel that the centre could do more in general to promote sports opportunities for disabled people who are perhaps new to sport. At the moment a lot of the facilities that are available at the centre are only available to elite athletes with disabilities or clubs who are already established in their sports. If sport is to be available to everyone, it needs to be available at every level.
Overall, everyone had a great experience on the day and were able to try some new sports, which was an added bonus!