Increasing accessibility to physical activity: A co-created, service delivery plan of action for persons with disabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador
With rising rates of disability in Newfoundland and Labrador, the stress on physical activity and recreation service provision for persons with disabilities in the province is extensive, with demand exceeding supply. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to this stress, limiting accessibility to services as a result of organizations minimizing their program offerings, and to a greater extent, being forced to terminate services altogether. Although current efforts to facilitate increased opportunities for physical activity and recreational engagement cannot go unrecognized, there are still many individuals (children, youth, and adults) who lack access to services, and as a result, whose overall health and well-being are compromised. The overarching goal of this project is to co-create a plan of action from which to address the inequities (i.e., lack of access) existing in physical activity and recreational services available to persons with disabilities as a result of increasing disability rates and the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) will work collaboratively with provincial disability advocates to understand the needs of persons with disabilities across the province, including the existing structural and social barriers that limit physical activity and recreational engagement, to devise a plan to improve the breadth and depth of physical activity and recreational service provision for persons with disabilities. Preliminary ideas for this plan include, education and training opportunities, in-home and community consultation, the creation of web-based services, and network development. Through an ongoing series of conversations, organizational meetings, and site visits, the project team will work to improve accessibility to the services already in place, and strive to enhance autonomy for persons with disabilities (and their caregivers) on their quest for health and wellbeing through physical activity and recreational engagement.