Spotlighting Sport and Inclusion for Learning Disability Week 2019 #LDWeek19
Why should we care about Sport and Inclusion?
Sport can be lifechanging because there are just so many benefits to physical activity. It is linked to a reduced risk of over twenty illnesses and taking part in regular sport can save between £1,750 and £6,900 in healthcare costs per person (Sport England). It also improves our mental health by helping us to achieve better self-esteem, improves our mood and helps to reduce stress - which is quite important because three in four of us Brits are very stressed out.
Which is why I’m pleased that Mencap, one of the leading Learning Disability charities in the UK, have made Sport and Inclusion their theme for Learning Disability Week 2019 (#LDWeek19). They did a survey with over three hundred eighteen to thirty-five year old adults with a learning disability and found that 49% of their participants would like to spend more time outside their house, 18% feel alone and cut off from other people and one in three spend less than one hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday.
Why do so many adults with learning disabilities feel this way? Well, if you have a learning disability and any of its associated conditions, there might be a few things that create barriers to your participation in sport e.g. inaccessible sporting venues, lack of accessible information, mobility and transport, finances, etc. 64% of UK sports clubs lack appropriate equipment for people with disabilities, so it’s no wonder there is a lower amount of participation in weekly sports activities by people with a learning disability in comparison to people who don’t have one (Mencap).
How can we make Sport more Inclusive?
But fear not, there’s lots of ways we can increase participation in sport for people with learning disabilities and the following campaigns and organisations are showing us how:
Kew Park Football Rangers (KPR)
At this football club – Londoners with disabilities are invited for a weekly kickabout! In partnership with RISE and the London Borough of Richmond, KPR offers the chance for disabled and non-disabled people of all ages, levels and abilities to participate in football. They also have a disabled squad that plays in ‘The Football for All League’, which gives disabled football players an opportunity to show off their skills and maybe start a sporting career.
Find out more at: www.kewparkrangers.co.uk/disability-football
Football for Autism
If you have a learning disability, you may be likely to have an associated condition called Autism. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which not only effects how you perceive the world and interact with others, it can also affect the way you process sensory information e.g. sounds, smells, etc. If you have Autism, sometimes experiencing too much sensory information at once can cause a lot of distress and discomfort.
That is why Alex Manners, who has Aspergers Syndrome, started his Football for Autism campaign. He’s been raising awareness of how Football venues can be more accessible for people with Autism. You can find out more about his campaign on the BBC website.
If you have a learning disability and prefer basketball over football, this West London collective may be the place for you! Safe Haven offers hour-long training sessions with professional coaches and a buddy system, who make sure everyone participating is included in all the fun activities.
Check them out at the Little Venice Sports Centre: www.everyoneactive.com/centre/little-venice-sports-centre
This disability inclusive hockey club in the London Borough of Waltham Forest host free pan-disability hockey sessions for people of all ability levels. They also offer free equipment and support from the English hockey international players!
They also host a number of Flyerz meet-ups in various locations, making it easier for more people with disabilities to access their hockey sessions, which you can find out more about at: www.walthamforesthc.co.uk/forest-flyerz
DanceSyndrome provide weekly inclusive dance workshops for people with or without disabilities at every ability level in Lancashire. They also provide inclusive dance and leadership opportunities for everyone who joins their organisation.
All their dance activity is led and informed by people with learning disabilities, so they can give people the confidence and self-belief through their philosophy: “anything is possible even though you have a learning disability.” Check them out at: www.dancesyndrome.co.uk