Despite putting together a full programme of activities at both Coventry University and University of Worcester, I have to admit that I was unsure about how the week would run and what outcomes we would realistically be able to achieve by the end of the 4.5 days together. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised at the learning and relationship building which took place in such a short period of time which was both insightful and meaningful. As a collective, we knew that the main aim of the week was to share knowledge and our own research expertise in the area of adapted / disability sport as well as to further understand our Japanese colleagues experiences in this field. Days 1 and 2 were presentation orientated but gave us an insight to each other’s areas of research interest, which I believed served as a useful platform for further discussions later in the week around research ideas and outcomes moving forward. The Worcester leg of the week was more applied in nature and gave the Japanese a comprehension to our practice here at UW. This included several site visits to the Snozelen centre (a multisensory environment for children and young people with disabilities), New College Worcester (National residential school and college for blind and visually impaired children aged 11 -19 years) as well as observing an Inclusive Sport Festival run by the UW students in one of their disability sports coaching modules.
It became obvious early on that we could divide our research interests into 4 broad themes namely; Education, Policy, Media and Lived Experiences of disabled people. This became a strong focus towards the end of the week when we entered into discussions about how we might impact on the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games, what that research might look like and who would be contributing to which aspects of the research. Miki and I (and Becs Foster in her absence) are largely interested in the Educational aspect that we could use to shape people’s perceptions and understanding around the 2020 Games in Schools and Higher Education. Given all of our experiences with other Educational programmes, the discussions that need to take place in Japan in June should be focused around designing a research strategy in this area which could make use of existing programmes such as “I’m Possible” and some of the work currently being delivered at UW on Inclusive Education in Physical Education. Research centred on influencing and educating the main prefectures in Japan which have close proximity to the venues of the 2020 Games could be targeted and research / educational interventions implemented.
Personally, the opportunity to get to know our Japanese colleagues was invaluable and learning more about Japanese culture and influences was extremely interesting. I am only sorry I will not be able to further experience this in Japan in June. However, in preparation, I am aiming to map out some research ideas that Becs can take over with her for further discussion on my behalf with Miki and it is my intention to be able to Skype in at set times throughout the week in order to contribute to the research discussions. I would like to thank everyone for a fantastic week and I look forward to working with you all in the very near future.