Swedish Canoe Federation and its work for diversity
Diversity in Swedish Canoe Clubs
Working with diversity and inclusion to make canoeing open to all is one of the main strategies for the future in Swedish sport. The Swedish Canoe Federation’s associated clubs still have a long way to go before reaching the goal of total openness and accessibility regardless of function or background. But there is a will to learn, and a great dedication in a number of clubs to change to the better. And in some clubs, the work is very much in progress.
The Canoe Federation must take the lead
It is the task of the Swedish Canoe Federation (SCF) to point in the desired direction, and to facilitate for our member clubs how to make it a reality for people with physical or intellectual impairment to join the paddling community. As one of the motto’s for the Freedom on Water project says, canoeing gives a sense of freedom that should be open to all. The hands-on work has to be carried out locally, and the task of the SCF is to be a source of support and knowledge where needed. Having said that, it is of course always an exchange of knowledge, as there is deep knowledge and a variety of actions taken in some clubs. One way for the SCF to support clubs is by giving economic contributions for education of club members when they attend for example a course in kayak leadership for people with impairment.
Committee for Diversity
A tool for progressing accessibility in a broad perspective is the Committee for Diversity, which is a group consisting of people with expertise and competence within the field. Some of the members of the Committee have own experience of having physical impairment, which gives an important perspective and knowledge to their work. The Committee works independently but in close co-operation with the SCF office. The role of the Committee is to develop and maintain paracanoe activities both on elite and recreational level and to enhance diversity in a broad sense, like making it easier for persons with immigrant background to feel welcome in the canoe clubs, as well as catering for persons with impairment.
In a 2019 survey among the canoe clubs, only eight clubs answered Yes to the question “Do you have any kind of paracanoe activities in your club?”. 35 clubs answered No. (43% answering frequency) This shows that there is much work to do, but also that there are a good chance of improvement. 30 % answered that there is interest in the club to starting up paracanoe activities, and 56 % answered Maybe. Another result of the survey was that there is an aparent need for information about where a club can turn for support and help if the club wants to start up paracanoeing. Over half of the respondents did not know where to turn if they wanted information and help.
Inspiration and a will to move forward
The clubs where there is already a good measure of work with paracanoeing are important as inspiration and for spreading knowledge and best practices. This Erasmus Project is also a good start to get things moving. SCF is confident that much exciting activities will take place and that development will make paddling a natural choice for action, competition and outdoors activitie.
To get in contact with the Diversity Committee, please send an email to email@example.com