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Negative attitudes are restricting disabled young children from community activities
Date of article: 17-Feb-14
Article By: Julia Corbett, News Editor
A lack of clubs and social activities available for young people with disabilities is preventing some from having crucial social interactions with their peers, an online survey has revealed.
A Mumsnet survey, conducted by disability charity Scope, has revealed nearly 60 per cent of parents with disabled children feel their child has been unable to access youth clubs, play groups and other local activities because they are disabled.
Scope and online network Mumsnet are calling for more to be done to make local provision such as play centres and leisure activities inclusive of disabled children and their families.
The survey of over 500 parents revealed families think an improvement in the attitude and confidence of staff members would result in greater inclusivity for disabled children.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said: “We hear from parents across the country whose children have been turned away from clubs and activities in their area, just because they're disabled.
“Unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of knowledge among staff and organisers, can lead to disabled children and their families feeling isolated and excluded from community life.
“It isn’t right that many disabled children and young people never have the opportunity to socialise and play with other children in their area.
“We need to see a culture change in how local groups and centres are planned and run, so that they are open to all children and families.”
The survey revealed only one in ten parents felt staff and organisers of community groups already had the confidence and expertise to make sure disabled children were included in local groups and activities.
Staff and organisers having a more positive attitude was described by 70 per cent of parents as being a way to enable their disabled child to become more included.
Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said: “With a bit of organisation and planning, disabled children can happily take part in all kinds of extra-curricular activities. There's almost never a good reason to turn someone away, but parents who responded to the survey told us that their child can't attend local clubs.
“The government and local councils need to make it clear to those who run these clubs that they have a responsibility to allow disabled children to live their lives to the full. We can't all be experts on the many aspects of disability, but everybody can make an effort to be friendly and inclusive.”
Mumsnet and Scope said they want the Government to set the tone for a culture change in local groups and centres to make them accessible for all children and families.
The charity and online network want the Government to do this through the new Children & Families Bill which will be updating guidance on the issue for councils.