Christmas Comes Early for Mencap Members With a Gift of Physical Activity Opportunities!
Posted: Tue, 11 Dec 2018 20:11
Members of Northampton Mencap have been given an early Christmas present this year in the form of physical activity opportunities provided as a result of partnership working between a number of organisations that's been coordinated by Northamptonshire Sport.
The group of people with learning disabilities meet for weekly sessions at the Boughton Centre on Ransome Road in Northampton, but until recently very few of them would take part in any form of physical activity on a regular basis.
They started by getting involved in the Royal Mencap's Round the World' Challenge which is a national initiative used to encourage their members to become more active. This resulted in them trying a variety of activities such as health walks, basketball and hockey which were led on by their volunteer group leaders, but had no exit routes attached to them for members to participate regularly in an activity if they enjoyed it.
At this point one of the volunteers, Paul Lockyer contacted Northamptonshire Sport's Disability Lead Officer, Graeme Wilson and asked for help with providing more regular activities for the group. Graeme invited Paul to present about the 'Round the World Challenge' and activities they'd participated in at the Northamptonshire Federation of Disability Sport (NFDS) group that he coordinates as part of his role.
Paul took up this opportunity and at the meeting met a number of physical activity providers who were able to give him some ideas of other things they could offer their group. Two of these were Caroline Bilbie from the Northants Disability Tennis Network (NDTN) and Matt Long from Northants Recreational Cricket who both offered to attend future Mencap sessions in order to provide taster sessions in their respective activities.
They both did just that and also went further to ensure there were ongoing opportunities for the Mencap members to participate in the sports even if they weren't there to deliver them. Matt delivered a session of table cricket which is played on a table tennis table and Caroline provided a fun tennis session using a variety of equipment which helped the members to learn some of the basic skills.
Both Matt and Caroline also provided some training for the volunteers to help them learn how to deliver such sessions themselves in the future and also signposted the members to regular opportunities for them to play their sports outside of the group.
With the help of the Tennis Foundation the Mencap group were able to go one step further with their future provision by providing them with their very own bag of fun equipment that they are proudly pictured showing off above, so they can practise their skills and play the sport whenever they'd like.
Graeme from Northamptonshire Sport said the following about this successful work:
"It's fantastic to see this great example of partnership working between a charity like Northampton Mencap and organisations such as Northamptonshire Sport, NFDS, NDTN, the Tennis Foundation and Northants Recreational Cricket who have all come together to provide these sustainable opportunities for this group of people with learning disabilities to get active!"
"We are all aware of the shocking statistics about the gap between disabled and non – disabled people in terms of their levels of participation in physical activity, but with the help of more collaborations like this I'm positive we can reduce this in the future!"
If any disabled people, charities, healthcare professionals, or support groups would like to find out more about physical activity opportunities and get involved in the Northants Federation of Disability Sport then please contact Graeme on Graeme.Wilson@firstforwellbeing.co.uk 07766 991828.