'Leisure Opportunities? There's Nothing for Us' DISABLED CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SPEAK OUT
Byline: MATT WITHERS
DISABLED children and young people feel there is "nothing for them" when it comes to play and leisure activities in Wales, according to a report published today.
The report, by social justice think-tank the Bevan Foundation, sets out the findings of a study of disabled children and young people's experiences of play and leisure.
It claims that, for too many disabled children, there were few leisure opportunities that appealed to them and where they felt welcome.
Some children and young people also described their fears about being bullied or picked on, feeling unwelcome because of attitudes of the public, and lack of accessible toilets.
But more positively, the report also draws attention to the minority of disabled children and young people who have very active lives, enjoying things such as swimming, horse-riding, trampolining and youth clubs.
Some activities, such as Dynamic in Wrexham and Circus Eruption in Swansea, "demonstrate that it is possible to involve disabled children and young people - either in specialist activities or in mainstream ones", it says.
The report says the key ingredients of success are a rights-based approach, which focuses on the needs of young people irrespective of their impairment, involvement of disabled children and young people in decision-making, and adequate staff and funding.
Written by the Bevan Foundation's director, Victoria Winckler, it says: "Provision of play and leisure activities for children and young people in Wales is covered by a large range of legislation and policies, from disability discrimination laws to policies on children's rights and to social care obligations to child poverty policies.
"Despite this, the majority of disabled children participate in a limited number and range of activities and some disabled children and young people feel there is 'nothing for them'.
"Disabled children and young people face barriers through lack of provision, lack of support, poor access to buildings and negative attitudes which, not withstanding legislation and policies, prevent them from participating like non-disabled children and young people. …