Kicking goals! The accessible sports and recreation expo hits a home run uniting people of all abilities
Feros Care prides itself on being an inclusivity champion, and the recent Accessible Sports and Recreation Expo in the ACT was certainly a testament to this.
Co-facilitated by Feros Care and supported by the Woden Community Service, it provided an opportunity for people living with disability to engage with a large variety of sporting and recreation organisations. Some of these organisations cater specifically to disabilities, while others were keen to spread awareness of their ‘all abilities’ focus.
Born out of a shared passion to build community capacity, the expo helped individuals and families explore their options in the disability sports and leisure space.
Looking through a broader lens, it also enabled like-minded entities to connect, share ideas, and build relationships which are already helping inspire a more inclusive sporting landscape.
Go big or go home!
Despite unrelenting rain, the event attracted 200 attendees and 20 vendors, demonstrating the community’s ‘dedication to the cause’.
Feros Care Community Development Coordinator Jason Schmidt, who also spearheaded the ACT Sports Inclusion Alliance, said the day was carefully planned to maximise widespread appeal.
“There was a broad variety of vendors – we had a great mix. There were organisations which until the day, people didn’t realise placed so much emphasis on tackling accessibility barriers, like Cricket ACT, Hockey ACT, and AFL Canberra.”
“Plus, we had the likes of Special Olympics ACT, Blind Cricket ACT and Ignition Gamers, who foster social capacity through gaming to help young neurodiverse people connect and feel more confident,” he said.
There were also dance troupes, walking frame races, a bike track, and special guests adding to the atmosphere, fun, and diversity of the day.
Accomplished motivational speaker, Paralympics aspirant, and Feros Care Fearless Films superstar, Elijah Arranz was a crowd favourite, as was the stirring Welcome to Country performed by indigenous leader Aunty Violet Sheridan.
Conducting a widespread survey to find out what people liked, didn’t like, or wanted to see more/less of during future events, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
In fact, the survey proved to be an attraction in itself, with the likes of Cricket ACT, Canberra Raiders and AFL ACT donating signed jerseys and bats as prizes to incentivise participation. Consequently, the survey’s engagement rate was a whopping 100%, providing comprehensive insight into the consumer experience.
“The survey confirmed that those who showed up had an amazing time all round,” says Jason. “It told us that people who didn’t know what their sporting and recreation options were – or even what they wanted to do – found their answers!”
Jason and fellow Feros Care team members reported many first-hand interactions which wholeheartedly supported these findings.
“Bringing the community together and being able to engage with everyone in the one spot – that was the beauty of it,” reflects Jason with a smile in his voice.
Putting runs on the board and paving the way ahead
With events like the Accessible Sports and Recreation Expo, the future of inclusive sport looks brighter than ever.
Off the back of this success story, Jason and the Sports Inclusion Alliance facilitated The Blind Society’s Birrigai Camp, and ACT Inclusion’s AFL clinics which will run until the end of June.
There are also several more projects in the pipeline, including networking events for both accessible and mainstream sports organisations to build sporting opportunities in conjunction with each other. These include Deaf Women’s Cricket, the Capital Football Goalball Program, and working with Cricket ACT to develop an Inclusion and Action Plan.
Plus, The Woden School, a local secondary school providing educational programs for people with intellectual disability and/or autism, is excited to explore the potential for more inclusive sporting opportunities for the students and wider community.
Feros Care looks forward to rallying more support from community organisations, and leaning into their inclusively minded programs and projects – like the expo – to respond to local needs.
To find out more about how Feros is supporting people with disability and building community capacity, click here.