The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) was created following research commissioned by the Gary Jelen Sports Foundation in 1998, analysing why disabled people weren’t visiting fitness facilities.
Gary Jelen, MBE is perhaps best known for his power lifting achievements, winning medals on a national and international stage. Gary also has a learning difficulty and initially found it difficult to find a training venue or a coach willing to accommodate his needs. It is this experience that provides the inspiration for the IFI and the desire of the project to ensure that disabled people irrespective of geography or impairment can have access to an inclusive fitness facility.
The IFI model is a relatively simple concept yet at the projects inception in 1998 was new to virtually all fitness providers. The model centres on developments in four key areas:
The development of accessible and inclusive environments
The installation of fitness equipment accessible for disabled people
Ensuring that staff have the required skills to be able to cater for the needs of disabled people
Ensuring that facilities understand how to target and communicate effectively with the disability market
These four components ensure that the IFI and associated projects and products stimulate a programme of continuous improvement, placing the focus upon more than just accessible buildings and driving forwards the concept of a truly inclusive service.
The IFI now boasts a range of past and current projects, a fee paying accreditation scheme and a range of partnerships and developments at home and overseas. It is the aim of the IFI to have launched 1000 inclusive fitness facilities across the UK by the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. This target is ambitious, yet achievable in the context of the industry’s fresh approach to provide an inclusive service and the drive of all partners involved in the initiative.
PVLC was one of the original 150 pilot scheme sites nationwide to be accredited by the ‘Inclusive Fitness Initiative’ (IFI).
IFI AWARDS 2008
In 2008 the IFI held an award ceremony to highlight those Centres who had been leading the way in Inclusive Fitness. Pent Valley Leisure Centre was nominated in two categories; 'Creating Inclusive Environments' and 'Outstanding Achievement' whch was the highest award given.
PVLC won both of these awards and was held up by the IFI as the benchmark for Inclusive Fitness in the UK.
For further information on the work of the Inclusive Fitness Initiative; visit their website: http://www.inclusivefitness.org/