Disability and inclusion are massively important and huge drivers for me. Though it never fails to astound me at the lack of support and understanding shown by some.
When we came to this sport as a family we were worried about how epilepsy would be viewed and we were surprised at the incredibly warm welcome we received. The support he and we, as a family received helped Jack settle quickly and thrive in the sport he loved.
We did see examples in other places of archers not receiving the support that we had and it was important to me that this was clearly an area that needed work. It was the main reason myself and Jack became ambassadors for AGB, explaining that inclusion and diversity were my reasoning and the areas that I wanted to focus on. Ensuring that those who want to try our sport receive a warm welcome with necessary adaptations but also supporting those within it who need to adapt and change to stay.
The key part to anyone in this sport is being treated as an individual, no two people are the same, and we need to be treated accordingly.
I see amazing examples of exactly this, and I try to ensure that coaches who I work with do exactly this. It is why I signed up to the Children’s Coaching Collaborative last year and signed my pledge at the launch of the Play their Way campaign.
At the weekend I was thanked for how I spent time patiently introducing a young person to archery, he was non verbal and instructions needed to be adapted, we had a great time and we shot lots of arrows. Communication should be adapted for everyone, non verbal does not mean lack of understanding or that the person can’t communicate in other ways.
I also spent time in another setting with a wheelchair archer who has some issues with confidence following comments made by other archers suggesting that she has been shooting inaccurately and that she should have known this, unsure how if no one ever explained it? But that the wording and implications were suggestive that being physically disabled is linked to issues with understanding instructions.
Why people cannot be careful with words is something I have never understood and that so many do not understand the damage words and tone can do is beyond me! I also don’t understand why a person who says something damaging never realises and therefore take responsibility, apologise and fix the matter.
Everyone deserves the right to be treated with respect and as an individual, disability brings a variety of challenges that can create boundaries and challenges without the additional burden of having to worry about how coaches or other people may speak to them.
Be kind, it doesn’t take a lot of effort surely.