White text on a black background. The text says "People with disabilities are 15% of the world. #WeThe15". WeThe15. Spark Solutions.

WeThe15 and Sport

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies was the launch of WeThe15. WeThe15 is a worldwide campaign that plans to initiate change over the next decade by bringing together the biggest coalition ever of international organizations from the world of sport, human rights, policy, communications, business, arts, and entertainment. The campaign will shine a light on the 15% of the world’s population who have disabilities. It will build greater knowledge of the barriers and discrimination persons with disabilities face on a daily basis at all levels of society. By doing so it will break down these barriers so all persons with disabilities can fulfill their potential and be active and visible members of an inclusive society.

The Paralympics was meant to light a fire for this campaign. National Paralympic Committees, and other organizations worldwide, will spread the messages of this campaign over the next 10 years. The biggest human rights movement ever; it will transform the lives of the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities.

Creating Action

The great news is that everyone can play a part in creating change, including those who organize sport. What can we do? WeThe15 offers these ideas (see website for more):
-Remove all barriers faced by persons with disabilities.
-Ensure everyone understands why inclusivity matters to your organization, brand, and society.
-Talk to an Organization of Persons with Disabilities (like Inclusion Saskatchewan) and find out how you can take action on a local level.
-Commit to disability inclusivity within your organization.
-Make your communications more inclusive.
-Facilitate employment of persons with disabilities, ensuring that recruitment is equitable. Provide reasonable accommodations and support employees who become disabled so that they are supported as they return to work.

Expanding Sport

Sport is transformative for those who participate in it. But the current reality is that there are extremely limited opportunities for participation in sport for persons with disabilities. And, opportunities to participate are in programming specifically for those with disabilities and not integrated in mainstream programming. One way to support WeThe15 is to expand sport programming to include people with disabilities, both through integrative and specific programming. Ensure people with disabilities can have access and participate in different ways – through in-person activities and by using technology. Begin by committing to expanding programming and figure out how to get it done from there.

Seek Out Training

Encourage your coaches to take the NCCP Coaching Athletes with a Disability eLearning module and to read the manuals and resource guides by Coaching Association of Canada. 

Form Partnerships

Look into Sask Sport’s Adaptive Sport Grants, or reach out to your provincial and national sport organizations, or existing organizations like Canadian Paralympic Committee, Special Olympics Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports.

Think About Logistics

Consider logistics surrounding your venue – is there appropriate parking or public transport access? Can participants access the field of play? Are there accessible bathrooms? Accessible water fountains? Is there appropriate signage? Can you buy accessible equipment or customize equipment according to the individual needs of your participants? These logistics are important to ensure that your participants feel welcome in the space, not just within your programming.

Participant-Centred Approach

Talk to individuals with disabilities, and their families, in your communities. What would they like to see in a participation experience? When would they like to participate? For how long? In what ways? How might you work together to deliver safe, inclusive, and welcoming programming? They have the best knowledge and will welcome your willingness to work together.

We can all do our part to recognize and celebrate WeThe15 and create more inclusive sport programming that includes persons with disabilities. Reach out if you would like to develop a strategy for expanding programming within your club and aren’t sure where to start.

Scroll to Top