Choice’s strategy for international development is focused on the Inclusion of disabled people in Employment, Arts and sports (IDEAS) and our current international focus is on disability development in India.
Prior to initiating our project in India we conducted thorough research and organised many conferences and seminars in disability equality, disability sports and social inclusion. We used these methods to identify the needs of disabled people in India, to engage with local organisations, local leaders and other stakeholders. We also used these opportunities to identify our best interventions, in line with our strategic focus on IDEAS.
We identified gaps in leadership development and sports development for disabled people in India. We engaged with many disabled people who were keen to progress into leadership roles but lacked the skills, experience and opportunities. We initially explored launching our innovative Leadership Empowerment Accessibility and Development (LEAD) project in India, whilst simultaneously introducing disability sports via Wheelchair Basketball and Boccia. The LEAD concept stemmed from Scope UK’s Fast Track programme which supported disabled people into leadership roles in the UK and we were keen to implement a similar initiative in India. However, we did not gain a great deal of interest from corporates and other local organisations to partner with, hence realised it was possibly early stages for this concept. Meanwhile, there was positive interest and support for disability sports development in India, hence we progressed with our disability sports projects and initiated our first disability sports development workshops in 2013, specifically Wheelchair Basketball and Boccia in South India, in partnership with a local NGO, Yes We Too Can (YWTC).
We delivered coach development and community sports leadership workshops whilst initiating the first Wheelchair Basketball club in India, the ‘Chennai Eagles’ in 2013. We also delivered sports development workshops across five states in India, introducing the sport across the country and empowering disabled people to develop their confidence and discover their potential.
With this success, Choice facilitated the inception of the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India , as well as to gain recognition by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. Choice, in partnership with ICRC, supported the WBFI to deliver the first national tournament for Wheelchair Basketball in India in Dec 2014, which has successfully taken shape and is now in its third year.
Choice also introduced Boccia in partnership with YWTC and EKTHA, local NGOs. We conducted workshops in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Visakhapatnam. There is a lot of interest from disabled people and NGOs in India, however, there is still a huge need for further capacity development to promote and ensure sustainable development of the sport in India.
Inclusive Fitness and Disability Multi-Sports Development – India
From our experience of working with disabled people in India and research into their unmet needs, we found that disabled people in India face multiple barriers to inclusion mainly due to a lack of resources, infrastructure, and a dismissive culture compounded by negative attitudes.
Through our work we realised that sports is a great tool for inclusion, developing confidence and self-esteem, as well as an opportunity for leadership development for disabled people. We found that Wheelchair Basketball and Boccia are two incredible sports, underdeveloped in India but with great potential. We also realised training more disabled people in sports would solve the visible lack of disabled sports leaders and create role models for aspiring disabled sportspersons in India.
We are now in the process of analysing and evaluating the outcomes from our activities to date, identifying further gaps and the need for future interventions, with the aim of launching further innovative projects in India and adopting these to other developing countries too.
We are currently exploring partners, funders and sponsors for the following projects in India:
- Capacity development of wheelchair basketball clubs and state associations
- Boccia Sports development
- Wheelchair Tennis development
- Inclusive Fitness
- LEAD India Click here for more details