Blog by Tom Bell – Get Yourself Active
National Fitness Day is a brilliant way of raising awareness of the enjoyment and benefits physical activity can bring to a range of people. Demonstrating the enjoyment of physical activity has been a key component in establishing sustained participation amongst disabled people across Cheshire, through the Get Yourself Active project.
When the Get Yourself Active project started in February 2015, Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) had an exciting opportunity to shape a project which would meet the goals and aspirations of local disabled people, who wanted to be active. We know from EFDS research that disabled people are still half as likely to be active as non-disabled people. This is why it is critical that when we do get the opportunity to engage disabled people in physical activity, we create a setting which supports personalisation. It is also important to base the activities around the wider benefits physical activity can bring and not solely focus on the way an activity technique is conducted.
At a recent project CCIL set up, in partnership with the Iris Vision Centre in Crewe and Everybody Sport & Recreation, a participant commented after a session that she had taken part in, that due to the enjoyment, it didn’t feel like she was exercising. I thought this was brilliant, as the participants had a session developed to meet their needs, which allowed them to focus on the enjoyment they were having, instead of focusing on the exercises they were doing. The success of the delivery has resulted in regular sessions being embedded into the Vision Centre’s activity calendar, which is being delivered by local leisure centre staff, in a way which meets the needs of the participants.
Many of the community support networks and external organisations we have partnered up with have never engaged with the physical activity or sport sector. This is a similar situation with the health and social care sector, that have described the sport and leisure landscape as ‘’confusing’’.
Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) are in a fantastic position to help support the leisure sector to understand what disabled people want and how they can be inclusive. As DPULO’s are organisations with lived experience of disability and have links to a large number of people with disabilities, they are a crucial stakeholder in the design, development and delivery of inclusive activities. I hope other DPULOs support National Fitness Day, to encourage and showcase disabled people being active, in an environment which is right for them.
Cheshire Centre for Independent Living (CCIL) is a Disabled Peoples User Led Organisation working across Cheshire to empower disabled people to have independence, choice and control over their lives and remove the barriers that exist within society.
CCIL works in partnership with Disability Rights UK to deliver the Get Yourself Active project which is about ensuring that disabled people have the information and knowledge to make choices about being active in a way that is right for the individual. CCIL has been working in partnership with colleagues in social care, health and the sport sector to develop and share models of practice which empower and support disabled people to get and stay active.