Understand ABBF: Why accessible adventure?

Understand ABBF: Why adventure sport?

Every once in a while, people ask us why we chose adventure sports when there are “so many other battles” to be fought. Why not education? What about healthcare? What about accessible architecture? What of representation in places of employment? The questions are endless and ever-flowing.

Here is why we chose adventure sport out of them all.

Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation is not an adventure sports company. We are a disability organisation that uses adventure sports as a medium, a platform, a tool. We use adventure sports as a way to promote inclusion. We believe that inclusion is the ultimate goal and that there are various methods that one can adopt to reach it. Adventure sports is ours.

Nelson Mandela once said a few lines that speak directly to our way of thinking. He said:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

By working with sport, we are creating an equal playing field (pun intended!), bringing people together and encouraging them all, disability aside, to push their own boundaries. There is an element of adrenaline, personal limits, and defining ability that is core to adventure sports in itself. It provides the perfect platform to get to know one another when everyone is challenging themselves in some form or the other. From these conversations, we believe, change will emerge – in mindsets, in attitudes, in perspectives, in actions. We have had people volunteer as scribes and readers (education, check), had participants more committed to health, nutrition and exercise as preparation for expeditions (healthcare, check), had relationships translate to possible job offers (employment representation, check), and had commitments to universal design and accessible adventure (architecture, check). By bringing people together for an accessible adventure experience, we believe in facilitating organic, individual-driven change.

At a more macro level, ABBF believes that the right to leisure and entertainment is one that is often ignored in the discourse surrounding disability. We forget that Persons with Disability too are as invested in winding down after a hard day, enjoying their Sundays, spending time in the outdoors. And we do not believe that we need to fight these battles for access in order – first X and only then Y. We believe in working towards a world of perfect equality of opportunity, independent of disability, and this means the ability to experience the peaks of the mountains and depths of the seas just the same.

This focus on leisure, entertainment and adventure is in keeping with the universal discourse on human rights as well. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed in 1948 states that everyone has the right to leisure (Article 24) and community participation (Article 27). (For a full list of the rights, visit here) It is internationally accepted that “leisure is not an idle waste of time or a mere absence of, or recovery from, work but rather necessary for a life of ‘dignity’…The right to leisure has been tied by a long line of empirical studies to individuals’ overall ‘well-being’” (Richards et al, 2013)

Long story short, we choose adventure sport as a platform to promote inclusive because of three things.

  1. We believe individuals are powerful agents of change and revolution needs start from one person.
  2. To create this change, you need to feel strongly about the cause and the best way to feel something is to experience it. Experience adventure, interact with persons with disability, and you will feel strongly guaranteed.
  3. No right of access is more or less important than the other. Everyone deserves the right to a healthy body and mind, and adventure is a great platform to achieve this.

And hence, at ABBF our request is simple. Come. Play. Grow.


For more academic content on right to leisure, read – Richards & Carbonetti (2013), Worth what we decide: a defense of the right to leisure , The International Journal of Human Rights, 17:3 329-349