John Willis

's story

HBR found only 4% of companies consider disability a part of their diversity strategy. Power2Inspire CEO John Willis knows that bringing people together through sport opens minds and sought help from Digital Boost to prove it. Digital Boost, a charity offering one-hour mentoring sessions on a huge range of digital challenges SME’s face, connected John with a data scientist, a data storyteller, and a fundraising expert to help him overcome his barriers to growth. John said: “Working with Digital Boost has taken us in new and unexpected directions towards our vision that no-one is left on the bench.”

In March 2020, Harvard Business Review reported that, of the companies surveyed, ninety-per-cent claim to prioritise diversity, but only FOUR per cent consider disability in those initiatives.

John Willis, Founder at Power2Inspire, was so surprised when he read that he decided to find someone to help him mine more data to prove what he knows very well:-

That bringing people together through sport promotes inclusion and breaks down barriers to understanding disability.

He found a data expert from digital inclusion charity Digital Boost, who offer one-hour mentoring sessions from expert volunteers with a deep knowledge of a huge range of challenges that small businesses face.

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Power2Inspire is unique in its approach to inclusion, connecting university sports-people with special needs schools for PowerHouseGames in adapted sports including golf, tennis, rugby and Boccia (a form of bowls).

The emphasis is on games, not competition, so the rules are adapted to the abilities of the players. If a player has only a left arm, everyone has to use their left arm.

In focusing on true inclusion, all other sorts of barriers come down, including fear and confidence… there are many success stories.

One young man found his accuracy at New Age Kurling made him the top-pick team member for the first time, and another acutely disabled boy overcame his fear and swam in the deep end of the pool because he saw John could do it.

John says: “At the end of our events there’s laughter, camaraderie, a real sense of achievement. I typically find participants have 28% greater awareness of disability afterwards.”

A second call with Digital Boost connected John with Google who are helping him convert data he holds into interesting visual stories, another way he hopes to convince businesses to be open to disability. He has also used the service to validate his fundraising strategy, as a basis for future growth when games can re-commence.    

John says:

“I would advise people who use Digital Boost to be clear on the project, make it a small definable thing so you get the right input for the outcome you need.
Working with them has taken us in new and unexpected directions towards our vision that no-one is left on the bench.”  
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