Inclusive Physical Activity Toolkit
The Inclusive Physical Activity Toolkit is designed to support Inclusive Physical Activity across both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan campuses.
This toolkit was created by the Physical Activity Committee, which is comprised of students, faculty, and staff members from both UBC campuses. We encourage you to use this as a guiding document for promoting, planning and advocating for inclusive physical activity within your own context.
Guiding principles to foster an inclusive environment
The UBC Physical Activity Committee is committed to increasing accessibility, broadening opportunity, and providing alternative, achievable, and applicable means and resources, to create a more inclusive approach to physical activity.
Physical inactivity is a key determinant of health across the lifespan. The prevalence, health impact, and evidence of changeability all have resulted in calls for action to increase physical activity in everyday routines.These guiding principles are meant to provide a foundational framework for those interested in utilizing the Physical Activity Inclusion Toolkit to better inform and enact supportive programming at both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan campuses.
These inclusion policies should be administered in an equitable and unbiased fashion. The principles put forward are meant to empower the community to ensure that environments are inclusive of gender identity, gender expression, sex, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, ability, age, ect.
Participants and facilitators are expected to be treated respectfully at all times and in all interactions. Non-sexist, non-racist, non-homophobic, non-transphobic and non-heterosexist language is expected when utilizing this toolkit.
1. Prior to activity commencement, ensure modifications and accommodations can be made readily available throughout the physical activity.
- Implement holistic adaptations (gender-conscious, body-positive, and ableism-conscious) to ensure that comfort and consideration of each participant is at the foundation of the physical activity practiced.
- Be ready to adapt when necessary: plan in advance for modifications, get to know the physical mobility of the group participating, and adapt as you go.
2. Evaluate the environment you are constructing for physical activity; promote a body-positive, ableism conscious, and gender-conscious environment and ensure accountability.
- If referring to a member in the group who does not share their pronouns, or the invitation to share as a group or individually is not previously stated, we encourage each participant in the activity to be referred to as they/them/their in consideration of not being labeled by a fellow participant with an unwanted binary.
- By fostering an environment that does not project negative weight biases onto participants, a more inclusive and positive body-conscious environment will emerge.This includes being mindful of language describing bodies and noting areas of “improvements” or “changes” on another’s body.
- If commenting during the activity itself, focus solely on the activity itself, the physiological effects that are occurring, and nothing changes that can be made by the participants that are in conjunction to “proper form.”
3. Provide a platform and safe space for feedback to be received and given, allowing for the physical activity framework to improve it’s accessibility to all members of the UBC community.
- Establish an open-door policy to allow for feedback. This increases transparency and approachability with participants, and provide progressive and evidence-based improvements to better the group as a collective and improve activity plan.
4. Encourage a more inclusive physical activity environment through positive outreach and sparking interpersonal connections with members involved.
- Physical activity should be accessible for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic background, disability, and socioeconomic status.
- Consider the intersectional variables of the above that influence participation and engagement within physical activity.
Please contact UBC Athletics and Recreation, or the UBC Equity and Inclusion Office, if you are in need of more resources or support to help with this facilitation.
Opportunities to consider Inclusion in Physical Activity
Inclusion in physical activity begins even before entering a recreational space; the language we use, the way we promote programs, and the spaces we use (among other things) can all have an impact. Consider these ways to be more inclusive when planning recreational and physical activity opportunities.
It is important to create a safe environment that is accepting and respectful of all identities, cultures, ethnicities, religion, gender, and race. It is also important to understand that barriers may not always be explicitly visible and come in a physical form. Consider an individual with a language barrier, someone who is hard of hearing, or an individual who may have social anxiety. These are all individuals that will come across some sort of barrier when partaking in physical activity. These barriers won’t be ones that are visible to the eyes however, they are equally as important as ones that are.
- Use language reflective of how participants want to be addressed
- For example, in some disability communities, the preference is identity-first language, in others, person-first language is preferred.
- Always introduce yourself with both your name and your pronouns.
- Construct a body-positive space
Cultural diversity includes not only aspects of ethnic heritage, but also age, language, communication (verbal and non-verbal), education, work, gender, abilities, sexual orientation, as well as social, political and religious beliefs. It also means ensuring culturally competent activities that create space for how various cultures chose to dress during physical activity.
You never know what someone is going through, and mental illness can impact physical activity participation in a variety of ways. Practice empathy by being understanding, aware, and respectful of others feelings, thoughts and experiences.
Abelism views individuals who are able-bodied as superior to those with visible or invisible disabilities. This can be presented through the physical environment, in the form of societal attitudes, or other presentations. Exhibiting ableism can be viewed as social, covert oppression presented as participation barriers of individuals with disabilities in activities that were constructed with only able-bodied folks in mind.
Communicate a wide variety of physical activity options that can cater to various skill levels and abilities, particularly beginner-level. Use person-centred language and try to depict and represent a wide variety of identities, abilities and skill levels.
1. Communicate a wide variety of physical activity options that can cater to various skill levels and abilities, particularly beginner-level.
- Are you sharing options that beginners would be open to?
- Are you preemptively inquiring about any accessibility needs or exceptionalities?
2. Promote physical activity from a holistic perspective
- Are you only focusing on the physical health benefits of physical activity?
- Do your communications include the mental health and cognitive benefits?
3. Depict and represent a wide variety of identities, abilities and skill levels
- Are your communications inclusive of different identities and abilities?
- Are your communications reflective of a genuine diverse range of identities and are you avoiding tokenism?
4. Use person centered language
- Person centered language is a safe assumption, however is it reflective of how a person wants to be addressed?
- Are you being intentional about learning about your participants?
- Are you using language that reflects how your participants want to be addressed?
Review the space where your program will be held for accessibility and inclusion. Keep in mind that barriers can exist in online spaces, as well as physical spaces. Make sure you inform your guests with details about the space amenities and other details about the event that are important when considering inclusion. These detail could include the following:
- Type of surface (grass, concrete, gravel, etc.)
- Seating availability
- Washroom types and location from event site
- Access for accessibility entrances and parking spots
- Will closed captioning or ASL interpretation services be included?
- Inform participants of sensory activities in advance so that they can determine their level of comfort prior to registering. For example, if an activity requires the loss of one sense and relying on another (ie, a blindfolded relay), those with sensory disabilities may not feel safe or comfortable.
It is also important for guests to be able to include any accommodation requests that they may have. Some requests may require advanced notice, so it is best to gather all of this information as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to ask upon registration for the event. Another way to do this is to have an email that attendees can send questions to including ones about specific accommodations.
If an activity requires the loss of one sense and relying on another, be sure that all participants, including those with sensory disabilities, feel comfortable with the activity prior to its exercise.
General tips for adapted based programming
- Physical activity should be fun for all!
- Not all strategies will work for everyone, make sure that you are flexible and able to easily adapt to the individual needs of the participants.
- Be specific, timely, and prescriptive when providing feedback. For example, instead of just stating “you need to swing your legs harder”, you can say “I really like the way you turned your hips when you took that kick. Next time, try to swing your legs harder and angle your body just a little bit more to your target!”
- Give demonstrations of all of the drills so that athletes know what is expected of them. This will also allow for easier understanding of the drill as some individuals may be visual learners.
- Collaboratively create a code of conduct (i.e. coaches and players) that are easy to follow and hold everyone accountable. Try and recite the code of conduct each practice or have it present and visibly shown.
- Avoid “highlighting” (making a player perform in front of others).
- Avoid games that tend to eliminate players (i.e. tag), and try and avoid using physical activity as punishment (i.e. running).
FIDOSPA: A GUIDELINE FOR INCLUSIVE PROGRAMMING
FUN: positive and enjoyable for everyone
INCLUSIVE: accommodate and respect diversity, equal treatment, no gender stereotyping (no exclusion)
DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE: match the development of learners
ORGANIZED: be prepared!
SAFE: physically and emotionally
PURPOSEFUL: incorporate learning, provide feedback that is specific, evaluative etc
ACTIVE: opportunities for maximum activity by all participants
Inclusive Physical Activity Opportunities at UBC
- Fitness classes and personal training sessions for older-adult clientele.
- Physical activity programming, and physical activity literacy for all ages and abilities
UBC Recreation programs and Intramurals are working to create inclusive environments across our offerings.
- Women’s-only opportunities
- Women’s specific Thunderbird Sport Clubs (TSC)
- Women on Weights classes
- Women’s Only Fitness Hours
- Gender Identity & Expression
- W2STGN (Women, Two-Spirit, Trans, Gender Non-Conforming) competition category for intramural activities
- Universal change facilities at the UBC Aquatic Centre and ARC
- Accessible programs & facilities
- Wheelchair basketball at SRC
- Adaptation and modification of programs to foster participation
- Accessible facilities & floorplans
- Race, culture, & ethnic diversity
- All facilities, programs and events allow participants to wear whatever clothing they find comfortable or that adheres to cultural or religious practices, being that it does not pose a threat to anyone's safety
- Programs are designed to avoid cultural appropriation
- Exceptionalities and Behaviour Form allows for accommodations and creates an inclusive environment
Please note that due to provincial guidelines enacted to protect our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, many in-person recreational opportunities are currently suspended. When safe to do so, these activities will resume.
- “Inclusion is an active, intentional, and continuous process to address inequities in power and privilege, and build a respectful and diverse community that ensures welcoming spaces and opportunities to flourish for all.” - UBC Equity and Inclusion
- Characteristics of either an individual, their environment, or the task, which influence movement by promoting or limiting certain movements
- A multifaceted term representing how an individual believes themself to be. For example, gender identity, cultural identity, national identity, self identity, collective identity etc.
- “The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity as they apply to a given individual or group. Intersectional identities create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” - UBC Equity and Inclusion
- Discrimination in favour of able-bodied individuals; centred upon the assumption that disabled individuals need to be “fixed” in one form or another.
- Age-based discrimination
- Providing an enhancement to allow a participant to partake in an activity
- Adjusting the activity or the objective to meet the needs of the participant
- Cultural diversity includes not only aspects of ethnic heritage, but also age, language, communication (verbal and non-verbal), education, work, gender, abilities, sexual orientation, as well as social, political and religious beliefs.
2SLGBTQIA+, Gender Neutral practices:
- Gender descriptor for when one’s sex assinged at birth corresponds with their gender identity in the expected way
Trans: gender descriptor inclusive of:
- transgender (sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in the expected way),
- gender non-conforming and non-binary individuals
Gender neutral practices:
- Utilizing language and form policies and practices while avoiding gendered language (male vs. female) and heteronormative gender roles.
- Gender inclusivity necessitates the use of non-discriminatory language and not making gender visible when it is inessential (i.e. mankind vs. humankind)
- The inability, because of an impairment of the musculoskeletal system or nervous system, to perform distinctive activities addicted with moving oneself and objects from place to place
- A disability that affects how people gather information from the world around them. For example, sight or hearing
- Any condition that includes a lifelong impairment of a person’s ability to learn or adapt to his or her environment, sometimes referred to as developmental disabilities
Trauma-Informed Practices in Recreation
Consider these techniques to take a trauma-informed approach to planning fitness classes and sports programs, and help create a more inclusive environment.