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Building partnerships to open up opportunities for disabled college students

27 November 2020

In our Active for College, Work and Life disability strategy we set out to build partnerships with organisations who can support colleges in delivering sport and physical activity opportunities to disabled students. Below are examples of some of the key partnerships we hold with National Governing Bodies. AoC Sport launched a partnership with Boccia England as the first step to adding Boccia to the competition pathway. From this partnership, AoC Sport has engaged 152 students in Boccia competitions and upskilled 19 students through the Boccia Skills Award. Boccia England also supplied officials for competitions to ensure the events ran smoothly. Boccia England also provided 20 colleges with a Boccia Skills Award package to help students gain an understanding of their own skills and personal capabilities ensuring they reach their personal best. The package included a staff resource pack, session plans and equipment pack. Kate Moss, Head of Development at Boccia England, said: "The work we are doing in partnership will help to introduce more young people to the sport, develop key life skills through programmes such as our skills Award, and encourage ongoing participation through competitive opportunities available within colleges, and hopefully beyond within community clubs. "Our aim is to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of disabled people through boccia and we want more young people to have the opportunity to play and compete in the sport." AoC Sport has worked with British Blind Sport to diversify our volunteer workforce. For example, we worked with them through their See My Voice programme and recruited a visually impaired student from the Royal National College for the Blind to volunteer at the 2019 AoC Sport National Championships. The See My Voice project supports Young Leaders to develop life skills that will inevitably increase their confidence and enhance their employment prospects as well as providing an opportunity to meet new friends and improve lives. AoC Sport also worked with the organisation to create content on our Inclusive Activity Resource Pack to ensure that it was accessible for visually impaired students. Tommy Garwood, Young Leaders Officer at British Blind Sport said: “Many young people who are blind or visually impaired attend college, or aspire to in the future. It is incredibly important to British Blind Sport that we work with colleges, to ensure that they are aware of young people’s needs. AoC Sport, like us, understand the value of this type of work, and partnering with them during the See My Voice project was a great opportunity to further knowledge of visual impairments and blindness in further education.” AoC Sport has worked with the LTA to distribute disability tennis grants to 27 colleges. The package, worth over £650, includes an inclusive tennis equipment bag, free coaching from a qualified coach and inclusive training resources for staff and students. David Hardman, LTA Disability Development Manager, said: "We know sport and physical activity can have such a big impact on a young person’s experience during their time at college. The benefits are endless – physically, mentally and socially. The LTA’s aim, through our disability offer with AoC Sport, is to capture disabled students’ interest in tennis - from an early age - so it can be a sport they continue to play in and outside of college life. "Whether this is via playing, volunteering or even coaching the sport – we want to use tennis as a vehicle to enrich disabled people lives’’. To find out more information or to get involved with our work, please contact Shannon Howarth, Disability Development Officer or visit the disability webpage.