We have long been trying to crack a few nuts.
One is the lack of provision in adventure sport for people with disabilities. Call it fairness or equality- for me it was simply direct experience through one of my colleagues (you know who you are) working with clients who rarely got the opportunity to get outside, never mind on a bike or whatever. Out of that came Wheels for All North West.
Another is the relative lack of women and girls taking leadership roles in adventure sport. Not quite as rare as hen’s teeth, pardon the pun, but look for a good female instructor and you have to go searching some.
We took the bull by the horns this year and decided to do something about it all ourselves. The result was Blend, a new program to train emerging leaders who have found adventure hard to reach in the past. Sport Northern Ireland was interested and decided to help us.
Surprisingly, we found these hard-to-reach groups hard to reach! We’ve had to adapt our recruitment methods, using a lot of cajoling, mentors, advocates, changing days we run the program and generally being inventive every time we encounter a brick wall!
What proved easier was to locate young fellas who were excited by what we are doing but don’t have the cash to do it themselves. Maybe it’s the image of Mountain-Biking (a mostly male preserve?) but surely not Stand Up Paddle Boarding?
So we’ve been trying hard to get the guys to find their emotional side (smiley face). Seriously though, the ideas from Blend were greatly helped by a friend in Youth Action’s gender unit. Rather than seeing adventure sport as an end in itself, this program prides itself on providing the tools to integrate the outdoors into your daily life, and bring others with you.
So no need to go off climbing big mountains! Maybe you just want to get out with a friend, spend some special time with your children, or brighten up the day for someone you are caring for?
Blend is the easy way to learn how. Spread the word. Next intake is Saturday 14th January. We are looking for you. Yes, you!