REPs is delighted to be partnering with the European Commission on a new two year project, European Fitness Inclusion Training for Work, which will equip fitness professionals with the sufficient knowledge, competence and skill to work with people with disabilities in fitness environments.
The initiative is led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Fitness & Recreation, and is also being delivered in partnership with the European Observatory of Sports Employment, Universidad Poltenica De Madrid, Palacky Univerity, MonentumBD Ltd and International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
The project uses an innovative approach by embedding inclusive fitness professional training within the fitness club environment in a sector skills alliance involving trainers, trainees, employers and people with disabilities.
Justification for the project stems from the reality that people with disabilities are three times less likely to be physically active and twice as likely to be obese than the able bodied population. They are under-represented in mainstream fitness environments. Many fitness centre managers and instructors do not feel confident working with people who have disabilities. This unease is exacerbated by a lack of awareness among employers, those with disabilities and their families regarding the benefits to be gained from their participation. A number of factors contribute to this including: the vocational preparation of professionals, operating polices and attitudes of staff, employers and society as a whole. Few Vocational Education and Training (VET) programmes equip fitness professionals with sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to work with people with disabilities whilst, the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) says states parties shall encourage their participation in mainstream sporting activities; provide opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and; ensure equal access to recreation and leisure activities.
The project will be piloted initially in Ireland, the UK, Spain, France and the Czech Republic with instructors in their work environments. All resources will be tailored to ensure sector needs are met, as a result more fitness instructors will be equipped with the skills needed to work with those with disabilities and as a result more workplaces will be able to cater for their inclusion.
This is huge project which REPs are proud to be a part of. Importantly, this project is predicted to have an impact upon 30,000 clubs, and over 1 million staff and associated VET providers.