The Mixed Ability Sport (MAS) model is yet to be applied to a University setting but could prove an effective way to increase sports participation in underrepresented groups, as well as to achieve greater social inclusion and community building. The Living Lab therefore collaborated with the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) and the Sport & Physical Activity Service (SPA) to carry out a pilot project to evaluate whether there is a need and opportunity for a MAS offering at the University of Leeds.
MAS has been developed, and is being championed, by IMAS (International Mixed Ability Sports) who are a Bradford-based community interest company. IMAS initially focused on promoting the integration of disabled players into mainstream sports settings. However, it became clear that many barriers are faced by different people in participating in sport and the MAS model appears to offer a ‘safe’ environment to overcome some of these. IMAS have therefore moved beyond disability to focus on trying to break down barriers to anyone wishing to participate in sport and physical activity.
This Living Lab project was led by Dr Jen Dyer and supported by MAS Student Ambassador Lewis Mitchell, a student in the School of Earth & Environment. Despite challenges, the project raised awareness of MAS amongst a small group of students and staff at the University, particularly through a Sustainability Week KinBall session and panel discussion, a Leeds Social Science Institute /Living Lab showcase event, and University Healthy Week taster sessions. Links were made between IMAS and the Sports Volunteering Officer, and students got placements with MAS boxing sessions in Leeds. In addition, external organisation including Yorkshire Carnegie, Aspire and Unorthobox were involved with the project through the Healthy Week taster days.
You can read the final project report from Dr Jen Dyer and a project report from Lewis Mitchell (MAS Student Ambassador) below.