A pilot project to help disabled islanders engage in sport and physical activity is already being hailed as a “fantastic initiative” and “wonderful opportunity” just one week in.
Jersey Sport is running a block of sessions on Wednesday mornings at Les Ormes, allowing participants from Beresford Street Kitchen and the Youth Service’s Inclusion Project to enjoy the fun of sport in a safe, friendly environment.
“It’s important to recognise that people with disabilities are often among the most inactive in society because of barriers such as a lack of confidence or lack of opportunity,” said Dan Garton, Community Programmes Officer for Jersey Sport. “We hope to remove this with our weekly sessions, based around fun and enjoyment, while also giving participants the chance to progress their social skills and teamwork. It’s something we’ll be looking to progress in 2019.”
The four-week pilot began last week (21st November) with fun team games and future sessions will feature sports and challenges such as capture the flag, tag games, dodgeball, powerball, tennis, netball and more.
“Although some of the young people were a little anxious and apprehensive about attending, simply because it was something new, any worries soon disappeared as soon as the session began,” said Adelina d’Orleans, Assistant Youth Worker with the Inclusion Youth Project.
“The Jersey Sport team were incredibly supportive, patient and understanding of the needs of the young people and were able to tailor the activities where necessary. We really are so grateful for this wonderful opportunity as it provides something fun and engaging to do during the day, which otherwise may just be spent at home.
“I was really impressed with how much some participated as activities like this that do involve some contact can often be really difficult but they talked non-stop on the way back into town about what they enjoyed about the day and how much they were looking forward to next week.
“After seeing how much everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves, it really shows what an important part sport can play in a person’s mental health and wellbeing and we can’t wait until next Wednesday!”
Staff from Beresford Street Kitchen (BSK), a social enterprise providing training and employment for people with learning disabilities and autism, have been invited to attend the sessions.
Ella Vieira, Support Manager & Safeguard lead at BSK, said: “This was not only a great opportunity for our crew to develop important coordination skills, get active and bond as a team but most importantly they had loads of fun doing it. It’s a fantastic initiative from Jersey Sport, providing a much-needed inclusive session for all abilities.”
The participants enjoy a free charter bus journey to their session at Les Ormes and then back to town afterwards. LibertyBus community manager Nikki Withe added: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Jersey Sport and Jersey Youth Service to provide the transport for this great project.
“Supporting initiatives such as this, that allow people with disabilities to access facilities around the island, is part of the work that we do to make the bus service accessible to everyone. We hope that all the participants enjoy being part of this project and that travelling by bus will give them the confidence to use the service again in future.”