For over 40 years, we've promoted the rights of people with disabilities across the globe. We've worked with Nottinghamshire Country Football Team and NPower to bring inclusive sports to more communities.  In 2012, we even brought the first Burkinabe Paralympians  to the London Olympics. And since 2011, we’ve brought together British volunteers and established partners in Ghana and Burkina Faso to make sure that people with disabilities have access to an education, fair employment, and a full and active life.

This year, we combined our experience in delivering disability sports projects and our track record in supporting volunteers’ development to launch REACT. REACT, the pilot project for our broader inclusive sports programme Fair Play, brought together a diverse group of volunteers, British and Ghanaian, partially-sighted and fully-sighted to combat the stigma around visual impairment.

In Ghana, over 300,000 people live with severe visual impairment. Due to a lack of understanding about disability, they are often undervalued by society and excluded from their community.

We know that sport has the power to bring people together, and a Paralympic sport like goalball has the power to create more understanding of visual impairment. 

Goalball is a sport designed specifically for visually impaired players: teams of three try to roll their ball towards the opposing teams’ goal, while defending their own. Working with Team GB Goalball Paralympian Georgie Bullen, our volunteers used goalball to tackle disability stigma.

As well as training people to play goalball, our volunteers spent time on the radio and in communities, challenging the ingrained attitudes that lead to disability stigma. Volunteer Richard Wheatley explains:

“I think we challenged attitudes just by being there. As a visually-impaired person, telling people that I’d been to university, that I’d won medals for goalball, made people re-think what they thought people with disabilities were able to do.”

Together, our volunteers reached over 78,000 people across rural Ghana. But the story doesn’t stop here. Whilst projects like REACT are fuelled by volunteers, they’re designed to continue having an impact long after the last volunteer has returned home.

We created six inclusive sports team, and secured land to enable goalball teams to practice. We developed and distributed the resources and instructions that schools need to start coaching goalball. This means that communities have the ability to continue using sport as a tool for change.

REACT is just the beginning. With Fair Play, we’re taking the fight for equality to more developing communities across sub-Saharan African and using different inclusive sports to tackle the stigma that leads to people with disabilities being left behind.

Find out more about Fair Play. Read more about the impact inclusive sports has had on volunteers. Hear from the people with disabilities we work with

(Photo Credit: Nicholas Seun Adatsi)