Inclusive Approaches

Adopting inclusive approaches when planning and implementing intramural programs supports a welcoming environment that encourages meaningful participation for students of all abilities, skill levels, identities, and backgrounds. By thoughtfully selecting and customizing approaches to meet varied needs and preferences, intramural organizers can remove barriers, promote diversity, and empower participants to contribute and thrive in program activities. 

Creating Positive and Inclusive Spaces 

A positive and inclusive space in an intramural program can create a sense of belonging, encourage active participation and support positive interactions among students. All students, regardless of their background, including those from 2SLGBTQI+ communities, racialized communities, disabled communities, and diverse cultural communities, have the fundamental right to experience safety and security while participating in intramurals. To create these spaces, it is important to implement strategies that prioritize inclusivity, promote communication, establish clear expectations, and address conflicts promptly.  

Strategies to create positive and inclusive spaces include:  

  • Check-Ins: Regularly assess participants' well-being and gather feedback through conversations, surveys, or informal methods such as thumbs up/thumbs down responses or visual check-in boards. During activities, use check-ins to confirm participants' understanding of instructions and levels of enjoyment, and to provide opportunities to adapt the activity to suit their needs and interests. 
  • Ice Breakers: Use fun and engaging activities at the beginning of sessions to help participants connect and build a sense of community. 
  • Consistent Routines: Establish clear guidelines and predictable program structures to provide a sense of safety and stability. Post a copy of routines in an accessible format, such as a poster with visuals, and display it in the spaces where intramurals will take place.  
  • Group Discussions: Encourage open discussions where participants freely express their thoughts and opinions.  
  • Team Building and Collaborative Games: Include activities that emphasize teamwork, cooperation, and inclusion.  
  • Flexible Activity Options: Offer a variety of activities to cater to different interests, abilities, and preferences.  
  • Peer Mentorship: Provide opportunities for experienced students to support and guide others, developing leadership skills in the process. 
  • Inclusive Communication: Use inclusive language, avoid stereotypes, and model active listening. Encourage open and constructive dialogue to develop mutual respect and appreciation for diverse viewpoints. Dedicate time for learning participants’ pronouns and ensure their proper usage.  
  • Address Conflict and Bullying: Establish processes for students to identify bullying or conflicts during intramural activities and co-create guidelines to maintain a safe and respectful environment. 
  • Visual Strategies: Incorporate visuals such as inclusive decor, positive affirmations, and a Safe Space sticker to create an environment that celebrates diversity and visually reinforces the commitment to emotional safety and inclusivity. 
  • Celebrate Diversity: Organize events or initiatives that celebrate the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and talents of participants, such as hosting cultural dance showcases or planning inclusive sports tournaments that involve various cultural or adaptive sports. 

Examples of Inclusive Approaches

Inclusive approaches in intramurals aim to create a welcoming and supportive environment by promoting diversity and accessibility, removing barriers to participation, and developing a sense of belonging for all participants. The approaches used will vary, depending on the unique characteristics and preferences of the students involved and the specific activities selected. Embracing and incorporating multiple approaches allows intramural programs to be tailored to participants’ needs, interests and abilities, ensuring that everyone feels included and valued. Examples of inclusive approaches include: 

Open Activities  

Open activities are designed to be fully accessible to individuals of all abilities, interests, and skill levels, ensuring that everyone can participate in the same activity with minimal or no adaptations. These activities are inherently inclusive, promoting unity and enjoyment by meeting the diverse needs of every participant. 

  • Example: Involve students in co-creating a sensory-friendly obstacle course that includes tactile elements, auditory cues, and visual supports. 

Activities with Variations  

Activities with variations involve making adaptations for all participants. These variations may involve adjusted rules, equipment, or playing areas, creating an environment where individuals with diverse skills and abilities can participate together in the same game or activity. Seeking students’ feedback in creating variations ensures that their voices are included and the adjustments are meaningful. The focus is on promoting inclusivity and ensuring that all participants have equitable opportunities to engage in programming. 

  • Example: Include variations in a game of floor curling by offering different equipment options, such as lightweight curling stones and push sticks, adjusting target distances, allowing flexibility in the number of ends per game, and promoting alternate scoring systems that prioritize participation and enjoyment. 

Activities with Multiple Entry Points   

Activities with multiple entry points provide various ways for participants to get involved, ensuring access for students with different skill levels, interests, and preferences. This can involve using various groupings (e.g., pairs, small groups) to provide more opportunities for participation or allowing participants to determine rules of play to enhance enjoyment. It can also include parallel activities, such as offering recreational and competitive options, with the opportunity to move between levels of play.  

  • Example: Facilitate an Active Movement club that caters to diverse fitness levels, abilities, and preferences by offering multiple options, such as competitive racing, leisurely walking/wheeling, and participation with the use of assistive devices such as a hand-cycle.   

Specific/Separate Activities  

Incorporating specific/separate activities is a deliberate and targeted approach where physical activities and sports are specifically tailored to meet the needs and abilities of individuals with disabilities. This approach recognizes that in certain circumstances, some participants with disabilities may require unique adaptations, accommodations, specialized equipment, coaching or support to fully engage in physical activities. In these situations, students may choose to participate individually or alongside their peers with disabilities, depending on their preferences and needs.  

  • Example: Provide a separate swimming program that focuses on teaching water safety skills and swimming techniques to students with physical disabilities, with specialized equipment and instruction.  


Parasport refers to sports and physical activities that are specially designed or adapted for individuals with physical, sensory, or intellectual impairments. These activities incorporate adapted rules, specialized equipment, and modifications to ensure meaningful participation. They provide a platform for inclusion, skill development, competition, and personal growth through physical activity and teamwork.  

  • Example: Collaborate with a community adaptive track and field club to establish a program that includes wheelchair racing, seated shot put, adaptive long jump and other para-athletics events. 

Reverse-Integration Activities   

Reverse-integration activities refer to physical activities and sports that are designed for individuals with disabilities, such as Parasport, but also include the participation of non-disabled individuals. In this approach, all participants must adhere to the adapted rules and guidelines that make the activities accessible to individuals with disabilities. By intentionally centring activities around the voices and experiences of the disability community, this approach creates a culture of inclusivity, empowerment, and enjoyment for all participants.  

  • Example: Organize a goalball league where all participants must follow the rules of the sport. 

Choosing an Inclusive Approach  

When determining the most suitable approach for a particular group of students or activity, consider the following factors:  

  • Student Voice and Choice: Encourage students to share their reasons for participation, such as social connection, enjoyment, competition, skill development, or other factors. Ensure the approach provides opportunities for meaningful and relevant participation based on their desired outcomes.  
  • Individual Needs: Acknowledge the diverse needs and preferences of individual students. Some participants may require approaches that offer specific accommodations or modifications to fully engage in activities. 
  • Accessibility: Ensure that every student can fully participate by providing accessible facilities and adaptive equipment as needed, and addressing any other barriers that may hinder participation.  
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Be mindful of cultural practices, traditions, and beliefs that may impact participation. Ensure that the chosen approaches are sensitive and respectful of diverse backgrounds. Use strategies such as promoting open communication and conducting frequent check-ins to foster an environment where students feel safe and comfortable sharing this information. 
  • Skill Levels: Consider the range of skills that participants possess. An inclusive approach should provide opportunities for all skill levels to take part and experience enjoyment, growth, and success.