The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund is working with partners to increase employment of disabled fitness professionals and boost disabled sport and physical activity participation.
National research commissioned by Central YMCA found that almost one in three people wouldn’t hire a personal trainer with a noticeable physical disability. Furthermore, Aspire, a national charity supporting people with spinal cord injuries, found that non-wheelchair users were more than three times as likely to be invited to interview for job vacancies than wheelchair users.
To help tackle these issues, Aspire has teamed up with YMCAfit on the groundbreaking Instructability project. Supported by a 75% subsidy from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund, which is managed by SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, the Instructability project provides disabled people with Level 2 fitness instructor training.
Over three weeks, participants learn about subjects such as anatomy and physiology, how to use gym equipment and how to put together a gym programme. Once qualified, they are given support to find placements and employment in the fitness industry.
The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund aims to increase the number of Londoners working and volunteering in sports ahead of the 2012 Games. Denise Page, Director of YMCAfit, is condident the Instructability approach can help change the culture that may stop disabled people working in the fitness sector.
“We hope that learners will overcome barriers specific to the fitness sector and disability, such as a lack of disabled role models, difficulty accessing training and work venues, and an assessment structure which can be impractical for certain participants.”
Half of the participants on the Instructability pilot in late 2010 are now in employment, working at local leisure centres, helping both disabled and non-disabled people achieve their fitness goals. Tasha Webster, Director of Operations at Aspire, has similarly high hopes for the 30 Londoners who will this year benefit from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund subsidy.
“Longer term it is hoped that by employing more disabled fitness instructors in the industry this will increase the number of positive role models and encourage greater participation in physical activity by disabled people, who are significantly less likely to meet the recommended levels of activity for health.”