By Gary Anderson

October 7 - Sport England's new funding programmes aim to increase disabled sports opportunities and participationSport England has today opened the application process for its funding programmes following its announcement last month of a further funding boost of £8 million ($13 million/€9.5 million) which aims to create more opportunities for disabled sports participation through its Inclusive Sport fund and a new disability equipment fund called Get Equipped.

With just over a year gone since the London 2012 Paralympics, Sport England is looking to build on the interest generated in disability sport and aims to use the new funding to increase opportunities and participation levels from grassroots upwards.

Sport England claims disabled people are only half as likely to play sport on a weekly basis compared to non-disabled, and it wants this new funding to help tackle the opportunity gap by investing £7 million ($11 million/€8 million) through the Inclusive Sport fund and £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.2 million) in Get Equipped.

The Inclusive Sport fund will offer disabled people more opportunities to play sport by investing in organisations with good ideas and the right expertise to make this happen, with 44 projects already sharing in £10.2 million ($16 million/€12 million) in round one which aims to introduce 60,000 disabled people to sport by 2016

Get Equipped will address the need for specialist equipment to deliver disability sport by giving clubs the chance to apply for up to £10,000 ($16,000/€12,000) of funding.

Both disabled people and sport deliverers have identified the cost and availability of equipment as a barrier to taking part in sport.

"Last summer's Paralympic Games sent a very clear message about disability sport," said Sport England's director of insight, Lisa O'Keefe.

"We need to build upon this and make sure the opportunities and the equipment are there for those disabled people who want to take part in sport.

"I would encourage any organisation seeking to help more disabled people to play sport to apply to this fund."

Sport England hopes that new funding programmes will build on the interest generated in disability sport by the likes of London 2012 champion Ellie SimmondsSport England hopes that new funding programmes will build on the interest generated in disability sport by the likes of London 2012 champion Ellie Simmonds

One example of someone who has benefitted from the funding programme is 30-year-old Julie who has cerebral palsy, and through her local Oundle Town Rowing Club's outreach programme has seen a vast improvement in her mobility thanks to indoor sessions on rowing machines, and she has now progressed to taking part in sessions on the water.

"Over the past few years we have been limited to working with just a few disabled young people," said Steve Rustage, Oundle Town Rowing Club development officer.

"With the funding we received from Sport England, we've been able to go out into day centres, colleges and schools to help disabled people like Julie get involved in sport.

"By the end of the year we hope to have introduced over 800 disabled people from across Northamptonshire to rowing, both indoor and outdoor."

Applications for both the Inclusive Sport and Get Equipped programmes are open from today, and are due to close at 5pm on December 2.

For more information and to apply for Inclusive Sport funding click here.

To apply for Get Equipped funding click here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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