Disability Sport and Participation

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th December 2019.

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Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

I am delighted to close today’s debate on disability sport and participation and I thank members across the chamber for their contributions and for the way in which we have conducted the debate. It is not always the case that we agree to have a debate without a motion, but with such a debate, we all have the freedom to contribute without any danger of becoming partisan. That has allowed us to focus on the important issue to people across Scotland of the importance of sport and physical activity and how they can be used intentionally to bring about positive change for disabled people, just as they can for everybody in society.

Like other members, I was particularly encouraged by the ways in which organisations such as Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland are working together to use the collective power of sport and physical activity to create positive, lasting change for disabled people.

Brian Whittle spoke about the importance and potential of sport and physical activity in the preventative health agenda. He was absolutely right. We know that physical activity is one of the very best things that we can do, not just for our physical health but for our mental health. David Stewart also made the point that that applies to everyone, irrespective of ability or disability.

It is good that, throughout the Scottish Parliament’s existence, the sports portfolio has been part of the health portfolio, and it is particularly good that sport is included in the public health portfolio. As we move to a preventative approach, that is exactly the right place for it to be.

Scottish Disability Sport has been a leader in the area for many years, and it was great to hear so many people speak about the subject. I join others in paying tribute to Janice Eaglesham MBE, whom I had the pleasure of meeting to discuss SDS’s work. I was so impressed, not just by the activity that SDS was delivering but by her personal commitment and drive, which absolutely shone through—members from across the chamber spoke about that. Her loss has been felt deeply across the sports community. The work on disability sports activity that many sports governing bodies are now delivering can be seen as a fitting legacy of the important influence that she had on disability inclusion in sport in Scotland.