Inclusive and Accessible System Change; What’s the art of the possible?

A few weeks ago, I crowdsourced a piece about system change.

Now I am looking to open up a similar conversation, but through the lens of inclusion. Addressing inequalities in activity levels is fundamental to our approach, but equality sometimes requires different approaches, different thinking and different solutions.

Some of the system change ideas that people came up with would change things for the better for everyone, so it’s worth reading the link above first. But we can’t presume that people who are disabled, and their supporters, parents or carers won’t need additional or different changes to take place.

So, I have wiped the ‘categories’ below, clean, and I’m asking everyone to look at this through their lens as a disabled person, supporter, partner, carer or any other ‘significant other’ in the life of a disabled person.

Let’s start a conversation because conversations do change the world. In fact, this blog piece stems from a comment about the Greater Manchester #activesoles movement, which pointed out that it wasn’t inclusive for wheelchair users.

We had already been supported by a colleague to think about this, but it hasn’t taken off in the same way…. yet.

Sarah Tweet

From now on, I’ll be talking #activesouls, as much as #activesoles.

Someone with the courage to challenge, has created a change in perspective and practice, with just one tweet. How much more could we do by changing the conversation?


Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear.” (The Art of Possibility, Rosamund Sander)

In the TEDx talk, I explained how significant change in population-wide activity levels won’t come just from individuals or groups of people changing their behaviour and lifestyles. Population-wide change requires system change which enables individual behaviour change.

“Moving has been designed out of life. It needs to be designed back in. And that will take more than a few of us changing our lifestyles and making different choices.

Imagine  that together we could improve the health and happiness of a whole town.. the whole of Greater Manchester…the nation… the world!

There are thousands of influences on our daily activity levels. You’ll recognise some of them on here.

whole system

We need to redesign places, policy, systems, practice and change culture. We need to enable moving, to get a whole population active. And I mean a whole population. Accessible and inclusive design and change for all.” (TEDx Oldham, July 2019).

But what does that mean? How do we help more people to understand system change? And then, how do we create the conditions in which we can bring about the changes that we’ve identified?

Before we can change language, the public narrative, systems, rules, regulations, policies, environments and cultures, we need to open our eyes to the ways that these things currently design moving out of life. We need to change our frame and our point of view, as Rosamund explains in The Art of Possibility.

This is a safe space to ponder the art of the possible.

Let’s crowdsource a collection of system change ideas together. To steal a phrase from Unlimited Potential:

What could we change to enable active lives, if everything and anything were possible?

If we could remove all our assumptions about the things that are in the way. Anything goes, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in a position to influence it (yet) or not.

Feel free to comment on the blog, the tweet, or email me direct, if you’d rather stay anonymous.

Let’s write them as a vision of what could be.

It could be things you know have been done elsewhere, ideas with an evidence base and ideas which would need to be tested. Intuition is welcome, as are anecdotal examples which could have wider application are allowed.

I’ll keep adding to this blog, as the ideas come in, and throw any relevant ideas into the mix there too.

Inclusion of an idea in here doesn’t mean to say that I personally agree with it, and it doesn’t mean to say that it will be possible!

I’m opening up the conversation to see where it takes us.

Before we get into system change ideas, however, it’s important to remember that economic and social inequalities are fundamental to the differences in our activity levels, healthy life and life expectancy. The determinants of health, as described here are critical to this conversation.

Have fun, and dare to dream! 


International Guidance, Law and Policy

National Guidance, Law and Policy

GM/Local Guidance and Policy

Rules, Regulations and Codes

Times and Schedules










Faith Orgs


Clubs and Activity Providers

  • Support and train activity providers to work alongside disabled people, removing disabling barriers.
  • Carers, family, friends and supporters of disabled people are a massively untapped resource within the activity sector. Once they are provided with knowledge and confidence around the activity, they have all of the skills to support and enable. This also provides supporters with the opportunity to be active, replacing traditional caring activities. (@BenAndrewsBE)

Systems, procedures and processes.


Cultural norms

Dress codes

Conversations, Language and Messages

  • Balance the languages from walking/running to include other options (see @ThatCounts)
  • Make moving a part of the conversation. It matters. Have conversations with teachers, social workers, carers and other professionals about how important it is.


Common Practice



  • Active family time
  • Support parents, supporters and carers to become active alongside those they support (follow @EmpowerYou_UP for more info)

Support Groups

Social Networks

  • Childcare swaps with friends (where possible)








Leadership Behaviours

  • Bring diverse people together to develop understanding of needs, and work together to explore solutions. Involve disabled people and their supporters in conversations right from the start.

whole system

Now that we are identifying some system change possibilities. I’d also like to gather stories of how system change has already been achieved, the impact it has had, what it has taken, and what has got in the way on the journey (just to keep it real!).

Please let me know your stories of success. We’ll all have some!

If this blog is useful to you, your colleagues or other leaders, please feel free to share it, use the content of it, or get in touch if you need it in different formats eg slides, reports etc.

Thanks for your contributions.

For more blog articles on Leadership, Learning and Life, click here.

You can email, connect on twitter @hayleylever or comment on the blog site.


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