Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games: A legacy

Arial view of the park at twilight that highlights the green grass of the three main stadia. This year marks the 20th anniversary of what was considered the “most accessible games ever”. That means both events – Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It set the standard for others to follow. The London Paralympic Games claimed the “most accessible” title in 2012.  But what of the legacies of these Games?

Several research papers have looked at the legacies of Olympic and Paralympic Games. Simon Darcy charts the whole process and the disability politics of the Sydney Games. Raju Mahto connects tourism with Olympic Games to show how accessibility supports both the event, the legacy and tourism for all. His paper, “Games Events, Accessible Tourism – A Mile to Go with Special Reference of Paralympics”, has some key findings that apply to any major event. By taking a universal design approach Mahto recommends:

    • Tourism operators must understand the needs of customers who have a disability
    • Accommodation establishments should have several accessible rooms
    • Public transportations systems should consider parallel services and ensure easy access to transport hubs
    • Tourism operators need to partner with Games organisers, the community and the private sector.
Other findings, that many of us are aware of, were that
    • Paralympic Games show how people with disability can participate as athletes not just spectators.
    • Post Games, Olympians can act as brand ambassadors for legacy in the long term and help raise awareness of the capabilities of people with disability.
    • Universal design should include all possible assistive devices where individual assistance is needed.
    • Events cannot be declared successful without a planned legacy in terms of ongoing strategic vision for the site and venue to remain accessible.
    • Paralympic Games bring social and practical improvements for accessibility and for personal and professional development.

      The Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) continues the legacy to this day. The Access Committee formed during the lead up to the Games continues on and is now called the Access and Inclusion Leadership Committee. It has overseen many improvements in inclusive sport and other events as well as the built environment. 

Editor’s Comment: I was fortunate to be involved with the accessibility of many Games venues during my time with the Independent Living Centre NSW. I have followed the fortunes of this site since. As a member of the SOPA Access and Inclusion Leadership Committee I contribute to the continuous improvement process of doing more than compliance and applying universal design principles. 

 

Athletics clubs can be inclusive

Summer is on a grass track and is running in a track lane.Australians love sport and  embrace all athletes including para athletes. But how do they get a start if clubs don’t give them a go? The Hills Athletics Academy has found how to adjust its coaching program to suit individual athletes so that they can achieve their best.

A video featuring para-athlete Summer Giddings and her coach Matt Rawlings shows how it can be done. Matt makes this comment, “I just treated her like a normal person – which at the end of the day – she is a normal person.” He says the experience helps him as a coach as well. Summer says, “It’s not hard for clubs to be inclusive.”

There is another video in the series showing how football brings together people from different cultural backgrounds. 

Sport for inclusion – making it happen

Footballers on the field from the Mosaic Metros Futsal Club.Inclusion isn’t just about people with disability or impairments. It means everyone. Inclusion should also embrace the full diversity of being human. Refugees and migrants are a case in point. Sport is embedded in Australian culture, but it also has a common language. So sport is a good way to start the inclusion process. But where to begin? Some good ideas come by way of a new video series – Inclusion in Action. 

The video below is from the perspective of participants, their coaches, and program organisers. It features the Mosaic Metros Futsal Club telling us the story of how they started and what they have achieved. One participants says how being part of the team makes him feel welcome. The team manager explains how members of an enthno-specific team can move onto integrating into other teams. He also says not to rush the process.

 

Universally designed leisure facilities

A walkway entrance at a leisure facility has a big green sign that has icons showing lots of different user groups.What does washroom and change room design have to do with social justice? Darryl Condon answers this question in a Pools and Leisure Magazine article. He has a good grasp of all the relevant design issues across the diversity and inclusion spectrum. The advice and information is transferable to any kind of public facility because it is explained with a universal design approach. Condon lists five design strategies that designers can take away. At the end of the article he advises that with any new facility, a diverse group of users should be consulted. A very thoughtful article in this international magazine published via issuu. It has other articles of interest to designers and architects. You can find the article, Designing for Inclusivity: Strategies for universal washrooms and change rooms in community sport and recreation facilities, on page 48. Pictures and graphics are a nice addition.

The article begins: “What does washroom and change room design have to do with social justice? A great deal. As architects, we must consider the social impact resulting from all aspects of our work. Universal washrooms and change rooms are increasingly crucial in the design of recreation and sport facilities and are one element in our approach to more impactful design”.

This article is also on Linked In and probably easier to read than the issuu version. The picture is from the Linked In version. The social inclusion aspect is also discussed by Katherine Webber in Toilets, Taboos and Design Principles.  

Kicking UD Goals in Sport

Two young men each with one leg and using crutches, compete for the football on the football field. Playing and watching sport is a major cultural activity in Australia. Joining a sports club or being part of the fan group brings a sense of belonging. Participating in sport has physical and mental health benefits. Kate Anderson and Susan Balandin from Deakin University write about this important topic in “Kicking a Goal for Inclusion in Sports Clubs and Stadia”. Their book chapter explains how sports providers can promote inclusion for people with disability. Taking a universal design approach they discuss three key areas: spectatorship, membership and employment. You can get institutional access via Springerlink, or you can access through ResearchGate. There are other articles on this topic in the Sport and Recreation section of this website.

Abstract: Sports participation and fandom play an important role in the personal lives and identities of many Australians, including those with disability. Participating in sport offers valuable benefits for physical and mental well-being and can enhance a person’s sense of belonging. Sports participation is recognized as a human right under article 30 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. In addition to playing sport, people with disability have a right to be included in mainstream spectatorship and fandom activities. Despite this, many sports clubs in Australia and overseas fall short in their provisioning for people with disability and give little thought to the inclusion of people with disability as staff or volunteers. This chapter covers some of the ways in which sports providers can promote engaging and meaningful community inclusion for people with disability. We adopt a universal design perspective to showcase practical inclusion opportunities for people with disability across three key participation domains in the sporting arena: spectatorship, membership, and employment.