Disability4Sport launched an inclusive multi-sport programme targeted at local children and young people and adults with learning disabilities, autism and physical and sensory impairments (PSI).
The programmes were delivered in two of the most deprived areas of Colchester, providing opportunities to try new para sports and ‘mash-up’ mainstream sports to include a wider audience.
The inclusion of those with long-term health conditions meant participants could engage in activities they would not previously have had access to and it also aided those struggling financially who couldn’t attend expensive and exclusive clubs. The weekly programme supports up to 30 children and young people aged 8 – 17 years old and the adult group support up to 30 adults.
Active Essex provided funding for this project as well as support in promoting the programme. Disability4Sport engage young people with learning disabilities to provide a pathway for families to access physical activity programmes. The need for these sessions has been recognised from observing other successful interventions which have had a positive impact on these young people.
The power of sport and physical activity was used as a platform to find common interests between the individuals so they could try new activities and feel they could do so without judgement. Small groups of friendships were created which led to the whole session being a positive experience with many feel-good emotions experienced by the participants, which they had not felt through previous activities or clubs.
The participants have not only increased their activity levels and their enjoyment of physical activity but have improved their socialising skills and achievement in feel good factors. These elements have contributed to their immediate and long term positive mental wellbeing.
The project leads have recognised that the participants have enjoyed the sessions and this has contributed to their overall happiness and life satisfaction. In turn, increasing self-esteem, allowing them to feel more confident in trying other new skills and opportunities.