Increasing participation in disability sport

ECL (Essex Cares Ltd) on-board a local project that has helped harness the positive influence that carers can have in inspiring people with learning disabilities to become more active.

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Adult with learning disability exercising on a reflex light machine.

The ‘supporting me to be active’ pilot programme was launched in Basildon by Sport For Confidence in partnership with Active Essex.

Lyndsey Barret, co-founder of Sport For Confidence, said: “We have identified that people living with learning disabilities tend to have small support circles, which often includes family members, friends and their carers.

“We have been working closely with those within these circles to raise awareness of the benefits of keeping active.

"We believe that these ‘support ambassadors’ have an important role to play to encourage and inspire more people with disabilities to engage with sport and physical activity.”

ECL, amongst other organisations, were selected to participate in the programme as ‘support ambassadors’.

Occupational Therapists from Sport For Confidence worked closely with participants to understand the value of physical activity and what they see as potential barriers to increasing participation.

The programme encouraged them to think about how they could overcome these barriers with the people they care for and develop a plan that will help them work towards a more active lifestyle.

Part of this planning involved a ‘supporting me to be active’ workshop, which educated participants of the benefits gained from keeping active.

Also highlighting opportunities to participate in inclusive sport and physical activity in the local area.

Karen Mannix, Local Business Manager at ECL, said: “The programme has helped us identify a clear pathway to providing more physical activities to clients under our care.

"Thanks to the programme, six individuals with learning disabilities are now taking part in at least one multi-sport session a week and we have seen tremendous benefits to the mental health of those involved.

"It’s great to see them enjoy themselves with their peers.”

Following on from the programme, four participants with learning disabilities themselves went on to become ‘All Together’ ambassadors, further inspiring other people with disabilities to take part in sport and physical activity.

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