Inclusive Sport  – A personal Perspective ‘Get Out Get Active’

Inclusive Sport – A personal Perspective ‘Get Out Get Active’

As You know I love to be active and lead a healthy lifestyle. Here is a blog is written by my husband on inclusive sport and the activities that we do together. 

Statistics show disabled people to be the least active group in the UK and it would seem logical that this is the case around the world.

 

The ‘Disabled People’s Lifestyle Report’ from September 2013 found that there is clear untapped demand for physical activity and sport within the community in the UK with 70 percent of the disabled people surveyed stating they would like to be more active. The report also found that 64 percent of the disabled people surveyed would prefer to take part in sport and physical activity with a mix of disabled and non-disabled people.  However, at the time of the report, only 51 percent did so.  The UK research highlighted a clear mismatch between people’s preferences and the availability of opportunities. Over 60 percent of those surveyed claimed that either a lack of awareness of opportunities or a lack of available opportunities is what prevents them from taking part in sport and physical activity.  Get Out Get Active is a project aimed at addressing these issues.

 

Get Out Get Active is a programme to encourage more disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together and has been introduced by a consortium of partners led by the English Federation of Disability Sport. The £4.5m programme concentrates on ‘fun and inclusive activities’ over a period of three years.

 

As the husband of a T12 paraplegic and somebody who has been involved in disability sport in various roles from volunteer to coach to administrator since 1991 I can relate very strongly to the finding that many disabled people want to take part in physical activity with a mix of disabled and non-disabled people.

 

My wife, Samanta, is a former no 1 Brazilian wheelchair tennis player and very active but the majority of her current activities are with non-disabled family and friends.  In her wheelchair tennis career, the competition was with other disabled people.  Outside of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour and since retiring the vast majority of Sam’s physical activity and sport is done with non-disabled people.

samanta bullock acroyoga disabled yoga
Acroyoga X Wheelchair User

 

The list of activities and sports she has tried is extensive

Archery – Basketball –  Beach Tennis – Camping – Canoeing – Cycling – Dancing

Fitness classes – Golf – Gym – Netball – Roller skating – Snorkelling – Squash

Swimming- Surfing – Table Tennis –  Pushing/Walk – Trampolining – Yoga including Acroyoga

As a couple we want to do activities together and this certainly applies to our nieces who don’t see any barriers to the activities that we can do as a group.  When planning to go roller skating the question came up as to whether the venue would allow Sam to go round in her wheelchair. The younger niece who must have been 7 at the time said ‘Of course it will be ok as she already has wheels.’  Our nieces love to do activities with us as a group.  We cycle, run, push, attend fitness classes, go swimming and play tennis as a family.  We take part in these activities in the house, in the garden, in parks, in the countryside, in sports clubs & in leisure centres.

 

 

In the words of a 11-year-old niece ‘I like the challenge of going on cycling adventures with Sam and solving how we will get over and around obstacles like rough ground, up & down slopes, across narrow bridges over ditches & occasionally up & downstairs using teamwork.  When we go swimming I don’t notice Sam has a disability. She is such a good swimmer’

 

We believe strongly in the benefits of inclusive activity and sport but not just for the physical benefits.  Exercise and social interaction are beneficial for the wellbeing of all family members.  Exercise & sport for disabled people does not have to be in disability specific sessions.  People can go for a walk/push with non-disabled family and friends of a similar fitness level.  Some people may prefer to participate with people with a similar impairment.  Some may want a combination of both complementing time spent with family & friends with time with people with a similar impairment sharing thoughts and ideas.  The key is that the disabled person is in a position to make choices about the most suitable environment(s) for them to exercise and play sport.

 

To conclude everybody should Get Out and Get Active.  I am off for a run followed by some yoga.

 

Fashion & Disability an Open Letter

Fashion & Disability an Open Letter

In 2018, it is not enough to have simply survived life’s obstacles – or even to thrive despite them. For me, as a paraplegic model, ambassador, parathlete, wife, and woman, to live my best life is to embrace my challenges.

Everyday, I accept myself. My legs, though at times I dislike them, are mine; though I don’t see them represented or reflected in the magazines and stores I browse in, they are here to stay. I’ve learned to love my body for all that it is. But still in 2018, and despite great progress towards diversity, it feels that there is much to be done to convince fashion to respect bodies like mine.

There are people like me all over the world growing up without any reference to their part or place in society; without seeing others, like themselves, living a full and fulfilling life. Still, it is as though having a disability is to be invisible – to have the full spectrum of who you are and who you could potentially become, ignored.

Beyond navigating the stigma, misconceptions, prejudice and doubts about what I, as a disabled person can achieve, I am working passionately to make sure that I see myself represented

samanta bullock wheelchair model abled body young
Before my accident – Samanta Bullock 1992

in my industry. I challenge myself to work fearlessly in fashion, so that others like me feel confident that they can not just survive their own obstacles, but thrive and embrace them too.

I want to make the industry I’ve worked in for 30 years, more inclusive. My drive comes from my experience growing up, working as a model in Brazil; having my accident and then feeling like my dreams had been taken away from me. This stage in my life lead me to the next – to becoming number one tennis champion in Brazil; to being signed to a modelling agency, representing top brands like the BBC and Toyota; and to featuring on the runways at London Fashion Week. Now, I’m channelling my passions towards making a difference – towards an industry that embraces and celebrates disabled bodies.

I want the next generation of disabled children and adults to see people just like them, working in all aspects of the fashion industry. I want to see disabled designers, stylists, makeup artists and photographers involved in major brands and fashion shows. In fashion’s future, there’s a place for blind and partially sighted people, deaf people, people in wheelchairs, people with learning disabilities – disabled people who have all sorts of abilities.

designer louise linderoth wheelchair model samanta bullock
Picture by Pavzo with Louise Linderoth at London Scouts LFW

I would like to work with all stakeholders in the industry to make fashion reflect society more accurately, and to create an environment wherein everybody feels welcome. In 2018, yes we have the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, River Island and ASOS to admire for their work towards this change; we have models like Kelly Knox and Madeline Stuart to inspire a new generation of models. But in 2018 I would like to see the leadership of these brands and power of these people’s stories motivating the entire fashion industry.

 

In 2018 it is not enough to leave the weight of inclusion on the shoulders of a few key players. Inclusion is about surviving and thriving together, embracing each other. Inclusion is about everybody – including you.

 

Why Fashion is So Wonderful at Creating Inclusion

Why Fashion is So Wonderful at Creating Inclusion

There is a common misconception amongst the general public that the fashion industry is full of stereotypes, social stigmas, and ostracism. Now, while it could certainly improve on all of those, fashion is definitely much better than it is made out to be. In fact, it can actually have a hugely positive impact on society, as the universal love of beautiful clothing, applying makeup and styling hair can bring people together.

disabled london scout fashion week wheelchair model samanta bullock
Take a look at my Interview for London Fashion Week Scout

This is especially the case for minority groups, and as a woman in a wheelchair myself, I know how included fashion can make you feel. Life can often be difficult for disabled people; some people simply don’t know how to approach someone in a wheelchair, and that can become quite challenging. So, the fact that fashion gives everyone, regardless of disability, ethnicity or gender, the chance to feel valued, is amazing.

Although, some people will still disagree and wonder how exactly fashion creates such inclusion. Well, that’s why I’ve put together a short list, to show that fashion is more than just a focus on appearance!

Boost Self – Love and Confidence

One of the most obvious ways that it helps is through the enhancement of self-love, and the increase in confidence. If you’re happy with what you see in the mirror, then you’re going to feel great about yourself. Once you acquire that sense of self-love, you won’t fear to talk to new people anymore, and that’s when you’ll realise that ninety-nine percent of people are open to getting to know you.

Gives You a Reason to Socialise 

samanta bullock wheelchair model disabled fashion wedding bride
London Fashion Week Project

If you love dressing up, getting your make up on, or styling your hair, then it just gives you that extra motivation to go out and showcase all of that. Therefore, if you keep socialising, and getting out the house, you’ll feel included more and more, and won’t feel like you’re isolated at home.

It’s Empowering

The fact that you can express your personality through the style of clothing that you choose, or the appearance that you go for, is very empowering. It highlights that every human-being is different, and that’s why the world is such a special place. The moment you feel so included, is when you recognise that everyone is in the same position, and we’re all just trying to display originality through our fashion choices.

Feel Comfortable with What You’re Wearing 

Fashion is one of those things that truly gives you the opportunity to feel comfortable in your clothes, no matter who you are. Typically, being in a wheelchair is a struggle when it comes to comfortable clothing. For instance, jeans often limit mobility and hurt due to the hard materials. So, being able to find fashionable clothes that fit well, and allow you to feel comfortable, is a real empowerment.

Creates Healthy Discussions

fashion Disabled Model- Wheelchair User
Saint Martins Talk

One of the ways that people don’t see fashion as positive, is the way that it always creates discussions. No matter who you are, you could easily chat to someone about the latest fashion trend, or the newest piece of clothing that is dividing opinion. You see, that’s a great thing, as it means no-one is excluded from conversations, as we can all have our opinion on fashion.

I hope you’ve found this article useful, and it would be great to know. Please leave a comment below!

 

Yoocan do anything inspirational website

Yoocan do anything inspirational website

 Do you know the website Yoocan do anything? It is an inspirational website telling the stories of a lot of great people. You should check it out. I was happy to be featured this month. Below is part of my interview. For the full article please check their website: https://yoocanfind.com

 

  • MY ACHIEVEMENTS MAKE ME FEEL OPTIMISTIC FOR MY FUTURE

Before my injury, I was a model and very active, playing handball and tennis. Since my accident, I have worked in politics, played tennis at the highest level, and performed in the 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony among many other achievements. I can now look back proudly at what I have already achieved since my accident and have every reason to feel optimistic about the future. I love to travel, going to watch live music, visit family and friends and be as active as possible. I go to the cinema, enjoy eating out and exploring different restaurants and cuisines. I am on the books of Visable, an agency that specializes in the placement of disabled artists: http://visablepeople.com.

MODELING AT LONDON FASHION WEEK

I recently achieved a dream of modeling a collection at London Fashion Week.  For more information about my work go to www.samantabullock.com.  I am also using instagram to promote inclusive fashion and give ideas on what disabled people can wear.  I also post content regularly on my You Tube channel demystifying life as a wheelchair user and giving insight into fashion and disability with a focus on inclusion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vfb3CRcnV8

Picture Credit:
Heber Barros Do