Inclusive sports programme underway

A new initiative to encourage disabled people to get sporty has started in Liverpool.

More than 70 people have joined the ‘Active Me’ programme which began in December 2013 and aims to open up opportunities for adults with disabilities to get involved in a range of sporting activities.

Figures show that only 22.6 per cent of people – around 3,200 – living in Liverpool with a limiting disability are involved in physical exercise once a week.

The aim of this programme is to inspire and motivate disabled people to take up a sport or physical activity such as athletics, dance, badminton and swimming.

There are currently six sessions each week taking place at Lifestyles Ellergreen, Everton Park, Garston, Peter Lloyd and Walton. A team of ‘Activators’ are on hand who will give one-on-one support to participants interested in accessing a particular sport, building their confidence and being on hand to give them advice and help them become as sporty as possible.

Plans are in place to also recruit Sports Buddies to offer initial support to anyone joining a sports club for the first time.

And, to make sure the new initiative is as accessible as possible, each session will cost just £2 and the first session is free.

Some of the newly signed-up participants will take part in showing off their new sporting skills in a handball match on Tuesday (4 March) at Lifestyles Ellergreen in Norris Green.

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet member for leisure, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We want to be able to eradicate any barriers which could prevent people with disabilities taking up a sport, and support them in trying something which may be new to them.

“Through Active Me, we want to see an increase in the number of people involved in physical activity every week. We’re delighted to have so many have signed up since December, and hope to encourage even more to take part.

“We’re committed to increasing inclusive sports participation at every level and with this new initiative hope to create a legacy of lifelong sport for disabled people.”

The project will initially offer opportunities to people with one of three disabilities:

• Mild to moderate learning disability
• Visual impairment
• Hearing impairment

The programme is funded by a £330,000 Sport England grant along with financial support from Liverpool Mutual Homes and Your Housing Group.

The city council is working in partnership with Everton in the Community who provide a coaching team for the scheme.

Alt Valley Community Trust is also involved, contributing venue space, delivering events and promoting the service.

Residents who started using the service in December said:

Matthew Barrett: “I like the Active Me sessions, the coaches are respectful and helpful, encouraging and polite. It refreshes me and makes me feel happy and more confident.”

Kyle Burns: “I like the sessions because the staff are all very welcoming and helpful. I haven’t played these sports for ages so it is fun to be learning them all over again.”

Robert Roscoe: “The sessions are fun. I am now feeling active and I enjoy every sport session. It has made me think of my own health and I am now eating more healthily.”