Supporting disabled children, young people and their families: guidance

Guidance to help improve the experiences of disabled children, young people, and their families.

Community life

In this section you can find out…

What's out there in my community?

There are lots of options for disabled children and young people to get involved in sport and leisure activities in their communities. You can find information about these below:


  • Scottish Disability Sport  is the coordinating body for sports for disabled people in Scotland. They have a role in promoting and developing sports, and to help with this they have coordinators based in different areas of the country.


Music and Theatre

  • Access Scottish Theatre lists accessible performances happening across Scotland
  • Drake Music provide music making opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Solar Bear work to ensure inclusion and accessibility are embedded in theatre.


  • Shared Care Scotland provide information on befriending.
  • Lead Scotland provides learning, befriending and helpline services for disabled people and carers. Their free Telephone Helpline and Information Service is on 0800 999 2568. 

How can I get involved in volunteering?

Volunteering is a good thing - People all across Scotland make absolutely vital contributions every day – to their families, communities and to society as a whole – doing what they believe in without fanfare or reward but because they believe in a fair society. Volunteering is good for the volunteer too: it can help build skills, get jobs and supports mental well-being. 

Volunteering Opportunities

You can find out about where you can volunteer on the Volunteer Scotland website Volunteer Scotland and SCVO's volunteering search site or through your local Third Sector Interface (TSI). Third sector interfaces (TSIs) is a single point of access for help for the third sector across Scotland. 

Saltire Awards

Saltire Awards helps young volunteers to reflect on, capture and communicate their learning and development gained through their volunteering. Saltire Awards is delivered in every local authority area by the local Third Sector Interface. They give help on achieving and accessing the Saltire Awards.

Young Scot provides volunteering suggestions.

Who has the right to play?

Children of all ages benefit and thrive from being able to play and socialise in their community. This is really important to developing the social and emotional skills that become so important in later life.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child upholds the importance of these interactions, declaring that every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities. The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland provides information  in an article titled "I have a right to relax and play".

See the Rights Awareness section of this site for more. 

Evidence shows that play lets children become more active, more confident and better able to develop key skills.

The Scottish Government, through its National Play Strategy, is committed to making the play experiences of all children and young people.

The Bookbug programme has some helpful resources about play and reading for children with a wide range of additional support needs.

How are we making Sport more inclusive?

Both the Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Delivery Plan and the Curriculum for Excellence make reference to the importance of removing barriers for disabled children and young people to participate in sport activities at school and in the community.

Scottish Disability Sport recently published a strategic plan which sets out what they want to do by the year 2021 and beyond.

They have a strong commitment to children and young people and established a Young Persons’ Sport Panel in 2015. The panel has 12 members from all over Scotland and it aims to support young people by giving them a voice and opportunities to develop as individuals by virtue of experience across various sports areas

What about Theatre and the Arts?

Time to Shine is Scotland’s arts strategy for children and young people aged 0-25. Its main aim is to make young people’s lives better through arts and creativity.

How are we helping communities?

The Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities programme uses money recovered from the proceeds of crime to pay for free activities and programmes across Scotland.  It focusses on young people and those from the most hard pressed and disadvantaged communities.

Sophie’s story, Tennis Aces

Tennis Aces, which is based in East Dunbartonshire, aims to reach out children and adults with additional support needs to participate in sport and develop a healthier lifestyle by taking part in a fun, social activity.

“My daughter Sophie has just turned 5 and and has delayed speech which has resulted in a struggle to communicate and understand. She is also a hyperactive child that has a lot of energy to burn. I have tried to enrol her into various classes in an attempt to further her development. But no class was willing and able to offer her a place. I was left very upset and disappointed.  Sophie watched her older sister go to many different after school classes but I have been unable to enrol her into any of these. 

Sophie’s tennis story started when she came home from her school one day and expressed her joy at having played tennis! I was so happy that she was able to participate in such a class and over the weeks that she attended I could see that she was loving every session. After a quick enquiry and a very prompt response Sophie joined Allwyn’s weekend tennis classes in May 2017. 

Since Sophie joined she has grown in confidence, she waits all week for her tennis class and can’t get enough of being around Allwyn and the other helpers at the club. When Sophie first started in May she was unable to follow basic instructions but now she not only listens and follows instructions she also is very good at the activities and loves seeing her friends Lewis and Jamie! 

My husband and I have also learnt a thing or two from Allwyn on how to make sure we are communicating effectively with Sophie. 

To be honest I and not sure where Sophie would be without Allwyn’s help... my husband and I are so grateful to the club as this has helped her so much.” 

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