More support needed for disabled in leisure and competitive sports

A government study suggests giving non-peak hour priority booking of sports venues to the handicapped, and a full-time scheme for high-achieving disabled athletes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 10:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 11:24pm

A pilot scheme to make sports venues available for the disabled, allowing them to participate in more sports, is among the recommendations from a government study.

Data from the Census and Statistics Department revealed there were 578,600 persons with disabilities in 2013, with another estimated 100,000 who are intellectually disabled.

A working committee has been formed to oversee the consultancy study. Renowned wheelchair fencer Yu Chui-yee and Apprentice Jockeys’ School headmistress Amy Chan Lim-chee were among the members.

The full-time programme for high-achieving disabled athletes involved provision of intensive training, with proper support given to enter both local and overseas competitions.

The report also suggested that the government, sports associations and related organisations educate coaches on how they can identify with the needs of this group of athletes, and provide corresponding care.

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Another recommendation involved the Leisure and Cultural Services Department giving priority to the disabled when they are booking sports facilities for use during non-peak hours.

Dr Pamela Leung Pui-yu, deputy chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, supported the idea of promoting sports among the disabled, but said the priority arrangement could also be extended to peak hours.

“If priority is only for non-peak hours, the disabled who have to work would be less likely to use the sports facilities,” Leung said.

While she also appreciated the proposal of upgrading facilities to be more user-friendly for the disabled, she highlighted the need to educate staff from sports venues on how to assist disabled persons in the use of such facilities.