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B.C. Secures Federal Funding to Advance Disability Inclusion in Sport

One in seven Canadians, or 3.8 million people over the age of 15, are presently living with a disability. While participation data and physical activity rates for persons with disabilities is scarce, it is understood that persons with disabilities are half as likely to be engaged in sport compared to peers without a disability.

To increase the quality of experience and opportunities in sport and physical activity for people living with a disability, the University of British Columbia’s School of Kinesiology and viaSport British Columbia have received federal funding through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant program to study disability inclusion in the B.C. sport sector.

The grant will fund a collaboration, entitled Level the Field: Disability Inclusion in Sport, which will combine UBC’s research expertise and viaSport’s applied knowledge in an effort to understand how the sport sector can be made more inclusive for people with disabilities.

By combining the UBC School of Kinesiology and viaSport’s significant resources, the three year project will deliver solutions that are responsive to the needs of people living with disabilities and to those who are responsible for delivering sport. The collaboration will focus on understanding and elevating the lived experiences of peoples with disabilities and engaging a broad array of sport leaders and stakeholders.

“Making sport more inclusive for persons with disabilities has always been a common goal for both UBC and viaSport,” said Dr. Andrea Bundon, Assistant Professor at UBC School of Kinesiology. “The SSHRC grant now allows us to integrate our teams and combine our resources to work towards that common goal in a more unified manner.”

In conjunction with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Affiliation between viaSport and the UBC School of Kinesiology, the $199,298 grant will continue efforts to eliminate the gap between research and implementation. While the partnership will focus on how to better include persons with disability in sport, the collaboration could become a model for future collaborations between viaSport and UBC.

“In addition to our study of disability inclusion in sport, we are seeking to understand the conditions and structure necessary for a successful cross-sector partnership,” said viaSport Director of Innovation and Impact Dr. Caitlin Pentifallo Gadd. “This innovative partnership could be the first of many to address a range of sport-related issues.”

Recognizing the obvious benefits of integrating their respective resources and research teams, Drs. Bundon and Pentifallo Gadd, who were once classmates in the University of British Columbia’s School of Kinesiology and team members at the Centre for Sport and Sustainability, worked together to apply for the highly sought after SSHRC Grant. Following a national competition, viaSport and UBC were awarded the grant and were the only successful application in the leisure, recreation, and tourism research area in the 2016-2017 competition.