It’s not sport for disability. It’s just sport

by Emma Young, Marketing and Design Manager, Youth Sport Direct

Ade AdepitanThe benefits of developing physical literacy in a young person stretch far beyond physical competence. It is argued that taking part in high quality physical activity opportunities can equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in life. Teamwork, empathy, resilience and aspiration are amongst the many important characteristics central to developing well rounded, happy and healthy individuals. This blog outlines how schools can engage easily in inclusive sport for their students with special educational needs and disability and break down some of the common barriers associated with it.

The ambition of the Youth Sport Trust’s ‘Sporting Chance’ strand of work is to provide all young people with the chance to succeed in life through the increased equality of opportunity. If achieved, 250,000 leaders, volunteers and teachers will have dedicated time to help transform attitudes and perceptions and aid schools to practice accessible inclusive PE and physical activity.

Providing support for schools in order to offer opportunities in sport to all young people is vitally important. Equipping teachers with the tools to develop young people effectively through sport will eliminate barriers for young people with SEND. Changing the perception there is a lack of opportunity for these students will play a vital part in overcoming many barriers and helping schools to change more young peoples’ lives through physical activity. The accurate landscape portrays a positive outlook, with opportunities for both schools and young people becoming abundant and more importantly accessible for any level.

There are a range of initiatives, resources and equipment available for schools to access easily. From free online resources, to participation in national programmes and equipment for inclusive sport, the Youth Sport Trust and Youth Sport Direct are working hard to ensure every young person has that all important sporting chance in life.

How can schools get involved?


Existing networks throughout the country such as the Youth Sport Trust Inclusion Schools are a great way to tap into expertise and gather knowledge around sport opportunities for young people. These inclusion champions called Project Ability Schools are visionaries for what high quality, meaningful and inclusive PE and School Sport should look like for every child. Through a range of innovative interventions and activities, this network can also help to support the young people themselves.

Information on your nearest YST Inclusion Schools can be found at

Initiatives and programmes

School Games

School Games is a national programme, providing a unique opportunity to inspire young people to take part in competitive sport. Broken down into four levels of intra-school, inter-school, festivals and the School Games, schools are able to compete at whatever level they choose. At all levels there are increased opportunities for young people with SEND to compete at a local, regional or national level. 

The School Games aim to increase confidence and enable meaningful competition as part of the sport pathway. They also provide the opportunity to change perceptions and increase understanding of young people with a special educational need or disability and encourage them to compete against non disabled athletes.

For more information on how your school can get involved in School Games go to and visit the inclusion section.

Play Unified

Inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to understanding, acceptance and friendship, breaking down the barriers that exist for people with intellectual disabilities.

Play Unified is a global movement aimed at ending the injustice, intolerance and inactivity of young people with intellectual disabilities, by building a unified generation through sport. A Special Olympics Programme, delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, it is aimed at young people in secondary and special schools.

To date, it has reached more than 15,000 young people in over 200 schools as well as seen young people talk at international summits, with the UK summit to be held this August as the Special Olympics event in Sheffield starts.

How Top Sportsability can help your school?

TOP Sportsability is a free online resource for schools and offers practical advice to teachers, learning support staff and other sports practitioners. It consists of video clips and downloadable content showing ideas and strategies around the inclusion of young disabled people in physical activity.

It aims to provide physical activity and sport options for young people with high support needs and create a vehicle for the inclusion of all young people together. It also aims to provide a basic introduction to a wide range of sports and activities in support of the School Games programme.

Go to to register and get started for using the following code: YSTINCLUSION59


It can be a challenge for schools when trying to coordinate sport and physical opportunities for students with SEND and access equipment within reasonable budget parameters.

Youth Sport Direct is a charitable trading company who reinvest 100% of their profits back into youth sport. Through research and innovation, they select and deliver equipment, products and resources that add real value for schools. They have a dedicated offering to inclusion sport, including the official Boccia England boccia set and New Age Kurling equipment. 

They have also recently launched an entry level multi sport wheelchair for truly inclusive wheelchair sport. Available in a range of colours and sizes, the chair can be used for a variety of sports, across a range of levels and abilities. This allows schools to access multipurpose equipment and makes delivery of a number of wheelchair sports achievable. Manufactured in Britain with partner Roma Sport, it allows schools to access affordable, high quality equipment for truly inclusive PE and school sport.

For more information on how to access any equipment or resources from Youth Sport Direct visit