Making exercise more inclusive

March 18, 2019

Nottingham City Council has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing the number of people with disabilities taking part in sport and leisure exercise and activities.

The council aims for Nottingham to become the fastest growing city for disability sports participation, and the new It’s for me campaign will raise awareness of leisure activities available to people with a disability or long-standing health conditions.

It aims to appeal to their values and needs, rather than focusing on their disability and will provide information about the accessibility, suitability and affordability of leisure provision in the city to reassure them they will be adequately provided for when they visit the council’s leisure facilities and take part in activities. 

To engage more people living with a disability or long-term health condition into inclusive activity, the council is delivering two funded projects with this focus - Disability Sport Insight and Participation project, funded by Sport England, and the Get Out Get Active project, funded by Spirit of 2012 and delivered by Activity Alliance.

The City Council has taken bold steps such as:

Improving accessibility to leisure centres and enhancing its existing swim, gym and fitness offers to be more inclusive

Training leisure centre staff (entry level disability confidence training) to enable them to better advise customers needing extra support

Supporting InstructAbility, a Sport England funded bespoke programme designed to engage disabled people in the fitness industry as gym instructors and gym users with job opportunities with Nottingham City Council following successful completion.

Cllr Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Localities, said: “We want to help people living with a disability or long-term condition to do what they can, when they can and feel confident when accessing our service, regardless of age, ability level, and whether they’ve exercised before or not. 

“We need to get the message out there that our leisure centres are fully accessible to all customers. The significant investment through our leisure centre transformation programme and commitment to achieve CredAbility accreditation is something we are incredibly proud of. 

“We also need to show what options are available to appeal to different individuals, depending on their personal preferences. For example, our gyms are very friendly and we can even adjust the music depending on the time of day to suit different tastes. We have opportunities to take part in a disability specific activity or sport, such as wheelchair or visibility impaired tennis. Others might be looking for a way to unwind and de-stress and would benefit from visiting one of our health suites.” 

Following consultation with users to test the suitability of the facilities and its activities, the council is now trialling new entry level group fitness classes Sit Tall Stand Strong at three leisure centres (Harvey Hadden, Clifton and Southglade). These are chair based exercises, with trained instructors providing adaptions to some of the movements to ensure all levels are catered for. 

Lloyd Morris, in his early sixties from Bilborough attended a taster session at Harvey Hadden Sports Village where the classes are being held every Wednesday morning. He said “It was nice and gentle. Exercise is very important, better than sitting down doing nothing all day long. I’d definitely recommend it. It keeps your blood flowing and your muscles supple.” Watch the full trailer 

Exercising in water can lower joint or muscle discomfort, making it a safer option for people with limited mobility. Improving water confidence is the first step for many people who haven’t swum for a while or may need help getting in and out of the pool. Swim for Health sessions include a Poolside Helper to offer advice and assistance for anyone who needs it. Sessions are available at all seven pools across the city at different times and days to offer a range of options. Swimmers can also wear a cover up item of clothing to feel more comfortable. 

The council is also looking at how to develop a more comprehensive knowledge base across teams to better support people accessing its services to ensure positive customer experiences.

Tony, 40 from Bulwell is one of the successful Intructability candidates who now works at Ken Martin Leisure Centre as a Fitness Advisor. He was given a fresh start after a difficult period in his life when he found himself living rough after being kicked out of his shared housing by his housemates. 

“When the Instructability course was mentioned during a free trial of the facilities, it seemed like another chance and meant I could turn my grief of recently losing my dad into drive.” 

Tony who has been profoundly deaf since the age of seven and suffers from anxiety admits it was difficult to go back to a learning environment when he started his training but found it helped his mental health and Making exercise more inclusivebuilt his confidence. “Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations helps you to grow mentally, which is just as important as physical fitness, he said. Read more about Tony here.

The benefits that disabled people can gain from taking part in sport and physical activity can be significant, including:

Health & wellbeing – weight loss, mobility, strength & flexibility, improves mood, feel better

Social – opportunity to meet new & like-minded people, make friends and have a sense of belonging

Confidence - gaining skills & confidence 

Enjoyment – having fun & lots of laughter. 

Understanding and removing the barriers to participation and supporting disabled people to understand how exercise can benefit them and help motivate them to take part is critical to the success of the work being undertaken.

Mike Diaper, Sport England's Executive Director Children, Young People and Tackling Inactivity, said

“We’re delighted to support Nottingham City Council in their ambition to be the fastest growing city for disability sports participation. The fact remains that disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive compared those without disabilities, and Sport England is determined to play its part in reducing this gap.

"The people who play the National Lottery make initiatives like the Disability Sport Insight and Participation Project possible. The Nottingham City Council has already consulted widely, set up a disability sport network in the city and provided community activators to support disabled people. Continuing this work, the ‘It’s For Me’ campaign will raise awareness and increase disabled people’s knowledge about what opportunities to get active are available to them.”

To support the journey, four Community Activators have been working across the city for the past sixteen months, signposting people into activities in the community or at one of the city eight leisure centres. In doing so they have formed strong relationships with individuals (see case studies attached) who through their own personal experiences are now inspiring others in their local communities. 

The Get Out Get Active scheme has also enabled people of all abilities to exercise in community settings across the city since September 2016. Part of the 2012 legacy, its activity programme includes walking netball / football, yoga, running, cycling for all and swimming.

 

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