Sport England invests in disabled fitness instructor project

Disabled people across the UK will have more opportunities to get involved in sport after Aspire’s InstructAbility programme received over £850,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Inclusive Sport fund.

InstructAbility is a programme created by Aspire, the spinal injury charity and YMCAfit, the leading fitness industry training provider. The aim of the programme is to give unemployed disabled people the opportunity to train as fitness instructors and undertake outreach engagement activities to encourage more disabled people to participate in fitness and sporting activities.

The grant has been awarded from £10.2 million of National Lottery funding for Inclusive Sport and is part of Sport England’s Places People Play Olympic and Paralympic legacy fund that is bringing the inspiration and magic of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities all over the country.

The award winning project has already been delivered in a few areas of London with 37 disabled people qualifying as instructors. 1 in 4 of the InstructAbility graduates who have completed the programme has gained employment as a result of the programme with private and public organisations such as Virgin Active, Fitness First, YMCA, GLL and Fusion. The Sport England funding will support a plan to deliver the programme across London, East, South East, West Midlands, North West and East Midlands.

Disabled instructors can reach new audiences of disabled people who have either been put off participating in the past or not considered it as a viable option for themselves. Brian Carlin, Chief Executive of Aspire, said,

“We are absolutely delighted to be awarded this substantial grant in support of our InstructAbility Programme . It has been our ambition to deliver the InstructAbility programme on a national scale and increase the number of disabled people working and participating in the leisure industry.”

“InstructAbility is a brilliant programme that provides new education and employment opportunities for disabled people as well as promoting the idea that working in the fitness industry can be for everyone. This initial investment from Sport England will secure long term lasting change by creating a national workforce that will, in turn inspire others. The success of the 2012 Paralympic Games has raised aspirations of disabled people as well as changing other people's attitudes to disability. InstructAbility has a valuable role to play the in supporting this long term legacy.”

Rosi Prescott, Chief Executive of Central YMCA, said,

The grant from Sport England will now enable us to extend the reach of InstructAbility across the country so that more people can access this opportunity than ever before.  I am hugely excited about the difference this will make to the future of significantly more disabled people over the next three years”.

Chris Ratcliffe, Director of Development at the English Federation of Disability Sport, responsible for the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, says that,

'It's fundamental as part of our workforce development strategy to train disabled people to become fitness instructors, to challenge and change people's perceptions of disabled people.  We believe that projects like Instructability will not only encourage more disabled people to work in sport and fitness, but by creating role models will also increase the numbers of disabled people participating in physical activity within local communities.'

Aspire are now looking to recruit an InstructAbility Regional Project Coordinator to deliver the project.

If you have experience working in the leisure industry  and would like to contribute positively to social change by challenging the negative perceptions of disabled people in society download a job description to find out more.  

To apply complete the application form and return with CV to Tasha Webster, Aspire, Wood Lane, Stanmore, HA7 4AP or tasha.webster@aspire.org.uk

For more on the EFDS Inclusive Fitness Initiative click here