Sport and fitness is a huge part of modern life. It keeps us fit, helps us to socialise and is generally just great for our wellbeing – both physically and mentally. However, what happens to those who may have a disability, either from birth or something they developed later in life? Are there opportunities out there for the disabled to get involved too?
In Perth, Live Active Leisure has been working hard to ensure that sport remains inclusive for all, even those individuals with disabilities. You only have to look at the Paralympic Games to see how incredible these athletes are despite having the barrier of a disability. There has been an increasing awareness surrounding sport and fitness opportunities for people with mental, physical and sensory disabilities ever since London 2012. LAL is keen to inspire others into sport and fitness activities, and after a hugely successful launch of the All Ability Cycling campaign last year, the Wellbeing team is looking for local businesses to assist them in their vision of expanding the project over 2017 and beyond – an exciting prospect!
Launched back in April 2016, the project came about following evidence that there was a lack of outdoor opportunities for those with a disability. Working alongside local agencies, parents, schools, NHS Tayside and Perth & Kinross Council, the Wellbeing team at Live Active Leisure developed and secured funding for an initial fleet of thirteen specially adapted bikes, aimed at getting those with disabilities active and confident. Funding partners included Perth Common Good Fund, Cash for Kids, The Gannochy Trust, Perth College, Cycling Scotland and Perth & Kinross Disability Sport.
Since the project launched, some great local volunteers have got involved and along with agency staff, they have been trained to use the specially adapted bikes, resulting in volunteer-led weekly sessions which have seen many local people with disabilities be able to get involved!
The partnership and funding manager for the project, Gill McShea, has been delighted with the success of the All Abilities Cycling Programme so far, and is keen to get sponsors on board to expand in the future.
“The project has been a huge success with local children and adults who are unable to cycle due to physical, learning or sensory difficulties and disabilities, benefitting from the opportunities All Ability Cycling brings.
“However, we are missing a wheelchair bike which would allow us to make the sessions fully accessible and inclusive for everyone. There’s also demand for the bikes to be available for individuals and families to use at more flexible times and we’d like to work with our partners to identify what could be done to make this possible.
“The wheelchair bike is £9,000 and Live Active Leisure is offering a unique opportunity to a local business or individual to sponsor or contribute to all or part of this campaign.”
It’s an exciting chance for local business to support a great cause and who knows, you may help to uncover the next Joshua Rowe – Perth based Boccia athlete who headed to Rio de Janeiro to represent Team GB in the 2016 Paralympic Games!
One of the participants in the All Ability Cycling programme is Thomas Wood – and he is very positive about what the project is doing for him.
“I like using the bikes because it gives me lots of freedom that I can’t get anywhere else. I feel safer going around the Inch instead of busy roads. I like using the 3-wheeler because I feel safer than on a normal bike. I just love being on the bikes and I wish I could use them more often!”
Live Active hope to encourage businesses and individuals to get involved so that people like Thomas can use the bikes more often and keep active and involved in sport. It’s a fantastic cause and you only have to look at the Swim Success programme, sponsored by Perthshire Flooring – read the article here >>> – to see what benefits the funding can bring for everyone involved!
For more information, or to contribute or sponsor the project, please email GAMcShea@liveactive.co.uk.
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