The sector average of student engagement in activity is 70%, whereas at Royal Holloway we’re at around 50%. This statistic is affected by a number of different factors, but I believe a large cause of the lack of activity may be based around students not feeling included in the development of these activities. With one of the Students’ Union's main values being inclusivity, it should always be central to what we do.
It’s undeniable that some students can be made to feel less at ease when participating in sporting activities. One group in particular comprises of disabled students. I believe this issue is not spoken about enough at universities, let alone at a university sporting level. It’s a frustratingly easy mistake to constrain our views of disability to what is visible, something which I, before beginning my research on this topic, was guilty of. However, having worked closely with your Vice President Welfare & Diversity, Willow Wong, and the Disabled Students’ Rep, Chris Keane, I have learnt about the scope of the word ‘disability’ and how important invisible disabilities are. The aim of Disability Sports Day is to empower these students and encourage them to feel able to engage in activity, as well as making them aware of the different ways in which they can do this.
As part of Disability Awareness Week, which is running from 4 - 10 February, there will be a Disability Sports Day, on Saturday 9, located in the Sports Hall, which will host a number of different activities for you to sign up to and try. From goalball, to sitting volleyball, blind penalties and testing how far you can go on a wheelchair in a minute! As well as these activities being fun and diverse, they are there to help students learn about the realities and difficulties that students with disabilities face on a day to day basis. This event aims to place every student on the same level, and help all demographics of students to feel comfortable being active. Alongside these events, there will also be a chance for students to have a walk around the gym with a trained member of staff and ask any questions they may have.
Students attending the event will also be given a pass which grants access to an active session for free. Active sessions are available to all students to drop in and out of for a relaxed active experience. Sports such as tennis, badminton and basketball are among the popular sessions.
An exciting part of running campaigns like this is that we get to involve our groups as much as possible. The groups at Royal Holloway are always looking to expand and develop around their core purpose, and so always enjoy taking part in events that have the aims of fundraising and raisng awareness, such as this. What I would love groups to take away from this campaign is the importance of inclusivity, and would encourage them to look into ways to make their club or society more inclusive by catering to different students and their needs.
Everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of whether you self-identify as having a disability or not! The event is FREE to attend and all events are available between 1pm and 6pm on the day.
Ideally we would like people to sign up in groups of three or six, however if you are looking to sign up on your own then still contact us and we will fit you into a time slot with other people! If you want to come down on the day then there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and learn more. If you want to sign up to a session, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your list of name(s) and College card numbers. The deadline to sign up is Wednesday 6 February.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any question and I’ll be happy to help!
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The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
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