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Advancing sport opportunities for people with disabilities: from grassroots to elite
  1. David Legg1,
  2. Mary Dubon2,3,
  3. Nick Webborn4,
  4. Cheri Blauwet2,3
  1. 1 Department of Health and Physical Education, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Kelley Adaptive Sports Research Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4 School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Legg, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada; dlegg{at}

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Sport, physical activity and recreation are important for everyone, but perhaps more so for the approximately 15% of the world’s population that experiences disability.1 The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly states that the benefits of sport are relevant at every level of participation.2 This includes experiences from grassroots community-led clubs to school-based adaptive or inclusive sports opportunities, to high performance events including the Deaflympics, Special Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The proportion of individuals experiencing disabilities who can and have benefitted from sport and recreation opportunities, however, continues to lag in comparison to the general population. Several barriers preclude equitable participation. As one example, while there are 206 IOC members there are only 184 National Paralympic Committee members. How can we elevate the profile of para sports locally if equity does not exist on the world stage?

Recent global trends suggest, however, that change is coming and that we are on the cusp of significant innovation that will enable more inclusive and equitable opportunities for sport participation for all. This editorial highlights these movements and provides several ways the sport and exercise medicine (SEM) community can engage to advance inclusion and accessibility.

Global efforts to address equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility

We are amid a global movement to rectify and address …

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  • Twitter @davidfhlegg, @MaryDubonMD, @SportswiseUK, @CheriBlauwetMD

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the editorial.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.