LJMU launch new Disability Sport and Physical Activity Network (DisSPA)

LJMU were joined by Professor Greg Whyte and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE DL, to launch the LJMU’s new Disability Sport and Physical Activity Network (DisSPA Network).

DisSPA banner

The launch of the network, led by Dr Tabo Huntley and Milly Blundell, was part of the LJMU’s School of Sport & Exercise Sciences and ParaCoach Project’s two day conference ‘Celebrating Disability Sport and Physical Activity in Liverpool.'

The conference, earlier this month, welcomed over 100 national and international delegates to our brand-new Student Life Building at the Copperas Hill Campus.

As part of the DisSPA Network launch, Professor Greg Whyte led a Q and A session with Tanni Grey-Thompson and delegates, followed by them both signing the DisSPA Network pledge board.


The network aims to provide a trans-disciplinary space to connect members and allies who advocate and collaborate to enhance the provision of more inclusive and empowering sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disability.

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Phil Vickerman hopes that the network will: “Not only celebrate disability sport but empower students and staff”, whilst Tanni endorsed the importance of sport in driving change, stating: “Sport has the power to do so many things, but we have to be aware of the message.”

ParaCoach Project Director, Dr Tabo Huntley, said: “The conference surpassed all expectations in terms of the diverse topics and experiences that were shared by our speakers. The authenticity and passion of our speakers offered delegates a window into the complexity of Paralympic and disability sport and physical activity. For me the connection made between academic and applied experiences was certainly a highlight alongside listening to the voices of athletes. When Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said, ‘This is the most disabled people I’ve seen at a conference taking about disability’, I then realised the significance of what we had achieved – we had created a space for the voice of disabled people to be listened to. The key now is to ensure that this momentum is maintained through greater collaboration between academia and the applied sporting world.”


Celebrating Disability Sport and Physical Activity Conference

Across the two days, keynote sessions, interactive workshops and panel sessions were held with a wide range of speakers from academics to coaches, performance directors to Paralympic athletes. The conference provided the opportunity to connect academia with practice experience. The conference was also an opportunity to introduce delegates to two of the outputs from the ParaCoach Project: the Coaching Framework and the eLearning course.

In addition to these sessions a marketplace across the two days featured a number of great organisations : Goalball UK, British Blind Sport, Dwarf Sport Association UK, Greenbank Sports Academy, Paralympic Heritage Trust, England Athletics, Liverpool FC Foundation, Accessercise and CP Sport. This provided delegates with the opportunity to engage with local and national organisations whose work is vital to providing and supporting disabled people with sporting opportunities.


What our attendees thought of the event:

“The conference was a great opportunity to collaborate and network with a number of organisations and athletes who are passionate about developing sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities, alongside considering grassroots opportunities across local clubs and educational institutions. The marketplace allowed BBS to share useful resources and information to grow opportunities specific to blind and partially sighted people”Alex Pitts, British Blind Sport

“I found the 2 days thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable, with a programme filled with experiences and knowledge, as well as challenging us all to think about how we can improve what we do. It was also fabulous to be able to connect and network with others to start to ‘join up’ our thinking and what we do. Thank you to all who were involved” - Paul Moseley, England Athletics

“‘A really inspiring conference, great for thought around my work and great for networking. Thank you LMJU!” - Vicky Hope-Walker, National Paralympic Heritage Trust

Moving forward

Do you want to join the DisSPA Network? Make sure to follow @LJMUSportSci on Twitter for up network updates!

Interested in signing up to the eLearning course? Keep an eye on our ParaCoach socials for a release date!

If you were unable to make the conference or wish to re-visit some sessions, please note recordings will be available in due course, updates available on ParaCoach social media.

Twitter: @para_coaching

Facebook: ParaCoach 

Website: https://www.paracoach.eu


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