Mixed Ability Ringette
As a country, Canada has set a direction for all governments, institutions and organizations to make sure sport has a positive impact on the lives of Canadians, creating opportunities for participation throughout the lifespan. Yet, many individuals consistently face barriers to participating in mainstream sport. Specific classifications and labels such as age, disability, gender, and background limit an individual’s opportunity and choice over where and how they participate.
Research shows that as few as 3% of Canadians with disabilities are regularly participating in organized physical activity. We have seen this statistic further inflated from 2020-2022 as Canadians have navigated the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to research collected by the National Disability Survey, the overall level of inactivity for children with a disability is alarming; 57% percent do not do 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity on any day of the week. Further, the survey found that only 22% of adults with a disability were meeting the World Health Organization’s adult physical activity guidelines.
As a nation, we have a unique opportunity to radically change the way sport and recreation are delivered in Canada.
Together, Abilities Centre and Ringette Canada have been working to address the gap in accessible and inclusive program offerings by introducing a model for Mixed Ability Ringette in Canada. This year, work was done to build off the success of Ringette for All (RFA), and move towards the creation of program offerings that enhance existing community coaches and clubs, and give individuals full autonomy over where and how they participate in sport.
Through this partnership, our goal is to build a national model for inclusive sport and contribute to increased physical, mental, and social well-being for all Canadians.
What is Mixed Ability Sport?
Mixed Ability Sport is a global movement that challenges participation assumptions and traditional thinking to redefine the way we think of, join in and enjoy sport.
Mixed Ability is a social movement within sports, actively promoting inclusion and equality through a sense of belonging and membership to a group, team or club.
Mixed Ability enables people of all abilities and life experiences to take part in community sports, without being separated, classified or labelled.
Mixed Ability does not mean Mixed ‘disabilities’. It differs significantly from existing sport structures as it does not promote separate or adapted offerings for participation for people with disabilities.
Mixed Ability Sport promotes players with and without disabilities playing together on the same team.
Mixed Ability Sport uses a universal design approach within various sport environments allowing for full inclusion not only for individuals with disabilities, but also those returning to sport, those who are new to sport, and any individual in our communities joining as equal, valued members of the club.
Joining the Mixed Ability movement and advocating for change does not mean you need to start a brand new program- you can simply apply the model to your existing club/team culture to build a more inclusive environment for all.
The positive impact of introducing Mixed Ability Sport to your cub include:
Ways to get started:
- Take the Mixed Ability Sport Coach Certification
Offered through Abilities Centre and led by individuals with lived experience, this one-day training and education will challenge your assumptions and biases and provide tangible tools to create spaces that are accessible and inclusive to all.
- Start a team!
Introducing Mixed Ability Sport does not need more volunteers, facilities and funding. There are many different ways to implement the Mixed Ability model within your club.
- Do you currently offer a house league program? Perfect. Apply the Mixed Ability model to your program structure and welcome individuals with and without disabilities to play in the league and compete within your club.
- Does your club offer competitive teams? Is there an individual in your community, living with a disability, looking to play on a competitive team? Ensure your recruitment and try-out processes are inclusive to all and base your team selection on skill, not perception.
- Looking to start something new? Start a new team that is built off the foundation of Mixed Ability Sport with individuals with and without disabilities joining together.
- Have fun!
Ensure that all athletes in your club are able to participate in all club activities- jerseys, team parties, and social event to develop a sense of belonging to the club.
Need help getting started? Abilities Centre is here to help!
Abilities Centre is happy to support your club in your Mixed Ability Sport journey. We have a number of resources and individuals to help with recruitment and outreach, creating registration forms, introducing try-it sessions and demonstration days, and supporting connections locally, provincially and nationally for games, events and competitions.