Is your club interested in offering programming to participants with disabilities? Don’t wait, get started now using the tips below and reach out to Bowls Canada today for more information!
Making Your Club More Accessible
Start with finding ways to make your club and facility more accessible to all. The 10 Ps of a Para Bowls Ready Program walks you through ten of the most important things you can do to start getting your club ready to offer programming for participants with disabilities. This is the gold standard – programs are not expected to implement everything right away, start small and build up to these.
Read the tips linked below for what types of adaptations you should be considering to make your facility more accessible and what types of assistive equipment you might need to run this type of programming: Tips for Facility Adaptations and Assistive Equipment.
When recruiting participants with disabilities, research has shown the most important program details that participants with disabilities look for when determining if they want to participate include the following. Be sure to include these details in any recruitment material that will be made available to participants with disabilities.
- Accessibility features of your facility
- Accessible transportation to and accessible parking at your facility
- Listing of adaptive equipment that is available to participants
- If the program will be specific to participants with disabilities or will be integrated with able bodied participants
- Level of challenge (beginner, intermediate, advanced, all levels)
- Coach certification and screening
- Include images that promote inclusion by showing bowlers with disabilities engaged in the activity
Try contacting organizations that support persons with disabilities to help in your club’s promotion of bowls as a fun, safe, outdoor activity that can provide many benefits including exercise and socialization. Organizations and groups to contact may include:
- Disability Sport Organizations (DSOs): Local or provincial/territorial disability sport organizations, for example wheelchair, deaf, blind, cerebral palsy, and/or Para sport organizations. These organizations may also be good resources to help you feel confident working with people with disabilities.
- City or Municipal Inclusive Recreation Departments
- Medical Professionals: Physical or occupational therapists, early intervention specialists
- Rehabilitation Centres or Organizations
- Local Clubs offering Para Sport Programming in a different sport
Think outside the box and try a variety of strategies to bring new participants to your program:
- Hold events to introduce para bowls to new participants (try-it days, open houses, partnering with community groups)
- Use word of mouth and the distribution of flyers or brochures to prospective participants
- Take part in demonstrations of the sport at off-site locations (retirement homes, rehabilitation centres) in order to generate awareness and interest
Get Your Club Members Ready
The success of any program relies on having people who can run it. Bowls Canada is happy to provide the resources below to clubs across Canada in order to best prepare your club members, volunteers and coaches to support bowlers with disabilities.
The Bowls Canada “Just Roll With It” Club Member Information Session Presentation is a free presentation that your club can use. The material can be circulated to club members electronically for their own review or can be presented to club members in a group setting. The goal is to provide a tool that can inform club members on how to best create an environment that is safe, welcoming and inclusive of bowlers with a disability.
For coaches and program volunteers at your club that want to get more involved and learn more about how to best support and coach bowlers with disabilities, Bowls Canada has specific courses for them. Stay tuned for more details on how to access these courses.
Finally, be sure to check out the Resources page for more helpful tools to get your club started!