Get yourself active blog

Get Yourself Active goes to a summit in order to make some sporting sense.

Thursday 31 May 2018

It’s always interesting to see what other charities are doing when it comes to helping disabled people get physically active.  So on Wednesday 23rd  May Leo Capella, Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active took a short walk across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the Lee Valley Velodrome to go to the Sporting Sense Summit. At the summit, Sense (a charity that works with people with complex communication needs) revealed their findings from their flagship project Sporting Sense. Leo shares his thoughts on the Summit and what happened when he got to do some inclusive cycling….

Figure 1 The view from inside the Lee Valley (Olympic) Velodrome. What’s not featured in this photo is some cyclists who were doing training while the summit was going on.

What came out of the summit was how much that physical activity makes sense for disabled people. And not just because of the benefits that physical activity can provide for our own physical and mental health. It also helps disabled people integrate in society as I found out through the speeches that were made during the summit. In fact, according to a report released by the Jo Cox commission on loneliness, half of non-disabled people don’t believe they have anything in common with disabled people. So including disabled people in physical activity helps actually integrate disabled people into society, among other benefits.
Also it was interesting to hear the speakers including Dame Tanni Grey Thompson whom having been a Paralympic Athlete had to get back to physical activity after getting out of shape, which is why aside from being an ambassador for Disability Rights UK she is now the chair of UKactive.

Also speaking was visually impaired rock climber John Churcher who had a wide and impressive array of achievements when it came to physical activity. This includes being the first person to Para climb the Eiger – a challenging mountain to climb.

Above all I suppose the biggest insight I got was just how many components or parts are needed for a successful project to work. From the planning with partners to making sure that there are good ways of evaluating the work. Positive outcomes from Sporting Sense over its two year existence included getting over 1000 disabled people physically active, upskilling (developing) over 250 workers in physical activity, well beyond the project’s initial expectations.
And at the end of the summit being one of those people who’s always up for trying something in the name of campaigning I got to ride a hand cycle which was part of an Inclusive Cycling session with an array of different bi- and tricycles.

Figure 2 Leo Capella riding a handcycle as part of an Inclusive Cycling session at the Sporting Sense Summit and having a lot of fun doing so.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when riding the bicycle using my hands to propel myself and steer it, however once explained to me was an easy thing to do. So I would recommend it to people who are not just physically disabled but people with neurological conditions who might feel that a bicycle is unstable for them and want to try something different. It was also a good arm strengthening exercise too. On an interesting side note, the day I went to the Summit was in the run up to the famous Indianapolis 500 motor race which involves cars racing around an oval circuit, something that 2012 Italian Paralympic Champion Alex Zanardi used to do. Although Zanardi never competed at Indy he raced a similar type of racing car on ovals, before a horrific accident in Germany saw both of his legs amputated. However after his accident, alongside continuing to race cars he took up hand-cycling and became a multiple Paralympic champion in the sport.

All in all the event was a positive one which I gained a lot of knowledge from. And aside from thanking Sense for inviting me to the summit I’d like to congratulate them on their achievements so far with Sporting Sense and wish them all the best for the next year of the project.

In other news: If you live in and around Wolverhampton and would like to try riding a adapted  bicycle or tricycle then there’s an opportunity to DO just that at an Inclusive Cycling try out day on Wednesday 6th June.

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