As Canadians struggle to navigate the ever-changing reality of COVID-19, one organization is taking steps to ensure that people with disabilities aren’t neglected. The Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability (ALACD) has introduced a number of new measures dedicated to making sure their members can flourish and thrive.
“As we come to the start of a new membership year, we have decided not to charge membership fees for the 2021/22 fiscal year. We know that COVID has been tough for many organizations, and the Alliance does not want to compound that,” said ALACD executive director Jane Arkell.
“We are very proud of the progress that ALACD has made organizationally. We have built a strong governance model with a hard-working board of directors and a small dedicated staff base.”
The work they’re doing includes a research project that examines the attitudes of parents who have children and youth with disabilities toward sport participation. Together with Sport Canada and York University, they’re putting together data that will hopefully inform their inclusion strategy. They are also examining the barriers that mothers with disabilities face when trying to be physically active, and exploring solutions to these barriers — an initiative funded by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association Gender Equity Program.
They also hired a new staff member named Sierra Roth dedicated to youth engagement, who is reaching out to youth with disabilities from coast to coast to discover the “why” behind their sport participation and physical activity.
“We have heard from municipal recreation leaders that providing specific or accommodating programs for those with a disability may have disappeared because of other COVID priorities. Over the next year we will develop a compelling resource that outlines the benefits of being active for those with a disability,” said Arkell.
“This will not only outline the personal health benefits but the societal benefits of community inclusion.”
Their goal moving forward is to “Build Back Better with Belonging”, making sure that inclusion and access are top of mind during the rebuilding process. They will continue to be a part of the Pan Canadian Disability Coalition, which is primarily made up of disability-specific organizations.
Sport for Life’s Senior Manager of Operations Kabir Hosein was pleased to hear about the crucial work that ALACD is doing under extraordinary circumstances. ALACD uses Sport for Life materials and embodies the principles being mobilized by resources such as Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity.
“To get through this pandemic, it’s more important than ever that organizations examine their relationship with inclusion and ensure that nobody is being left behind. A healthy sport and recreation ecosystem includes everyone, regardless of ability or disability. We applaud the work being done by ALACD to create positive pathways and societal connections.”