A girl with down syndrome and a volunteer taking part in a sport class

Breaking Barriers: Supporting disabled teenage girls to be active


Led by Access Sport, the Sweaty Betty Foundation, Women in Sport and Nuffield Health, the Breaking Barriers project identifies the barriers that prevent disabled teenage girls from taking part in sport and exercise.

The ‘Breaking Barriers’ report builds on our charity’s ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls’ research and explores disabled teenage girls’ attitudes towards sport and exercise.

Conducted via focus groups and a national survey, the report highlights that this inactivity is contributing to disabled teenage girls experiencing worrying mental health issues, including being less happy and more anxious.

Read the research

Key findings:

  • Many disabled teenage girls understand the benefits of playing sport or exercising and want to do more.
  • Disabled teenage girls are frustrated by the lack of suitable opportunities outside of school.
  • Disabled teenage girls face additional barriers to being active compared to non-disabled teenage girls.
  • Girls only opportunities help girls find joy in sport and, for many disabled teenage girls, participating with other disabled girls is important.
  • Coaches and instructors play a key role in creating a non-judgmental and welcoming environment.

By embedding these findings in their ongoing work, we believe that the Government, the sport for development sector, and community sport providers, can collaboratively make a tangible, positive difference in the lives of disabled teenage girls across the country.

To support community sport providers, funders and policymakers, we have also developed a toolkit that sits alongside the report. This toolkit provides practical guidance on engaging disabled teenage girls in sport and exercise.

Learn more about our Breaking Barriers research here.