No Barriers to Activity: Finding your Fitness
Getting into exercise as a disabled person can seem like an additional challenge. Many people with disabilities are highly active and involved in many different activities, with busy social calendars, working lives and lifestyles, but what about fitness? The lack of fitness in the UK and beyond is not limited to the able-bodied community and keeping active is something many disabled people can benefit from physically and mentally. Statistics from the Sport England Active People study found 16.8% of people with disabilities take part in sport for 30 minutes a week and there is so much potential for more people to get involved and enjoy the benefits of getting active. Here we’re looking at two popular organisations which show just how much fun and fulfilment can be found in sport and activity, particularly when you become part of a group that immediately understands the same challenges .
In their own words, Disabled Ramblers was set up to ‘help mobility-challenged people get back into the countryside’ and with the help of technology and able-bodied supporters and helpers, more than 30 rambles take place every year.
With great care and attention, the organisation make sure to offer a range of different types of ramble, graded according to difficulty. Some rambles are fine for a vehicle you could use around the shops or powerchairs whereas others require ramblers to climb aboard a power scooter and truly get off road. The Disabled Ramblers are dedicated to finding as many accessible routes as possible. They work with the local authorities to improve access and make even more routes possible and in most instances, other local ramblers come along too to enhance the enjoyment of the experience. Their ramblers have described their walks as everything from ‘nature therapy’ to ‘freedom’ as well as offering both a social aspect and the chance to get closer to nature.
Dwarf Sports AssociationThe Dwarf Sports Association was founded as the Dwarf Athletic Association UK in 1993 and has grown considerably since then. With original patron Fatima Whitbread and new patrons Ellie Simmonds O.B.E and Matt Whorwood, both Paralympic Medallists, the DSAuk is an organisation which attracts more members every year. Both Simmonds and Whorwood began their swimming careers with DSAuk so are perfect examples of what hard work and commitment can lead to.
Athletes as young as two can get involved with the Dwarf Sports Association and as well as promoting competition and building skills, the association use sport as a tool for breaking down barriers. Members are empowered and guided to achieve all they can. The DSAuk National Games takes place every year and covers a wide range of sports including athletics, swimming, powerlifting and football. Some sports have even achieved such levels of popularity that they need their own dedicated events including badminton and boccia. You can take a look at the DSAuk National Boccia Tournament 2014 in this video:
Getting Active and Finding your Sport
Both the Disabled Ramblers and Dwarf Sports Association UK are always willing to welcome new members and give them the chance to enjoy their particular sport. This may not necessary be what you’re looking for though. The National Disability Sports Organisations are the starting point for many people looking for their perfect sport or activity. The organisations provide guidance and advice and can help point people towards the most appropriate organisation or association for their particular needs. There are currently eight National Disability Sports Associations: British Blind Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK, LimbPower, Cerebral Palsy Sport, Mencap, UK Deaf Sport, Wheelpower and Special Olympics Great Britain. Such a wide range of organisations helps almost anyone looking to get active find their sport and their team.
Kitting yourself Out for your Chosen Activity
Just like anyone considering a new sport or activity, you need to consider your kit and accessories. With the Disabled Ramblers, you may need to loan a power scooter for example and in many other sports you may choose to wear specific clothing or need adapted equipment to join in. Wheelchair sportspeople often invest in specialist chairs specifically for sport and there are other accessories worth considering too. A recent Disabled Ramblers newsletter included a mention of Greepers Laces and how useful they can be for disabled people. The great recommendation said:
Greepers Hiking Laces are specifically designed for use when on ramblers and other walks and they’re designed to make it easier to get your boots or walking shoes on and keep them on. Greepers Laces are also a sensible choice for other sportspeople with disabilities including members of the DSAUK as some kinds of dwarfism and related conditions can lead to dexterity problems. Worrying about tying your shoes laces shouldn’t be a consideration when you’ve got your new favourite sport to practice!