Get yourself active blog

Tech4Good Award seeks accessible tech projects

21 April 2018

Digital inclusion charity AbilityNet is on the hunt for inspiring tech projects using tech to transform the lives of disabled people for this year’s Tech4Good Awards.

The AbilityNet Accessibility Award is one of eight categories open for entry as part of the 2018 Tech4Good Awards, organised by AbilityNet and sponsored by BT.

Now in its 8th year, the awards recognise organisations and individuals who create and use technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place.

Past winners of the Accessibility Award include Lifelites, which provides tech equipment and support to children with life-limiting conditions in UK children’s hospices. It was the first ever winner of the Accessibility Award in 2011.

Lifelites CEO Simone Enefer-Doy, said:

“Winning the Accessibility Award was a pivotal moment for us. I realised that we weren’t just a start-up; here we were, being told by our peers that there was something very worthwhile about what we did. It’s helped us to sell our cause to potential funders and has helped us continue to grow and help more children and their families.”

Last year’s winner was Bristol Braille Technology, who have created an affordable Braille e-reader for blind people called Canute, designed with and by the blind community.

Other past winners include Open BionicsWayFindrBarclays Bank and LexAble . They all demonstrate creative ways that tech can change people’s lives.

Entries are judged by an expert panel of judges who have worked across the technology, digital and charity sectors and have the unenviable job of narrowing down 250+ entries to just 28 finalists.

Entries for the Tech4Good Awards close on 8 May. The awards are free to enter and are open to any individual, business, charity, social enterprise or other public body with a base in the UK.

If you would like to enter, visit the Tech4Good website.

In other news: the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has issued a call for evidence about disability and sport – in a bid to get people moving more on a daily basis.THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING ANY EVIDENCE IS FRIDAY 11th MAY.

Re-creating London Marathon 2018 by Iyiola Olafimihan

Friday 20th April 2018

Iyiola is a volunteer on the Get Yourself Active project and here shares his plans on this Sunday London Marathon

I have always wanted to participate in the annual London marathon and this year a group of us wheelchair users are joining in on the fun.

However, we will not be taking the usual routes through the streets of London like the other participants. We plan to do our own version of the marathon by wheeling round a popular huge park near my house.

You may want to ask, why the park? Why not join the thousands of people on the streets of London and become famous! Well, the answer to that is we have never done this before and we wanted to start in a familiar environment. Some of my friends also prefer to start small because they said they don’t have the confidence yet to hand cycle on the streets. We know adequate provision must have been made by the organisers to make the event inclusive but when you have never done it before, I suppose getting yourself active to identify with others in the park is the next best thing to the real thing.

So, I have called up my non-disabled friends and family to join us this Sunday to organise our own London marathon in a park! For me and my friends it will be the first time to participate in an organised event that will keep us active and identify with an international event taking place in our great city. We are not raising funds for any charities (maybe next year if the group are up for it we may) but just doing our thing instead of sitting at home watching others on TV.

We are a bit disorganised this year but if we enjoy it we might just plan 2019 to be better. We might even take to the streets and join others to get active and raise funds for whatever or whoever we want to raise funds for – it could even be to draw attention to an issue if permitted by the organisers.

London marathon in a park, why not? It’s all about getting yourself active.

The London Marathon will be shown on BBC 1 on Sunday 22 April from 8:30am

In other news: Good luck to Anthony and all the other runners taking part in the London Marathon this Sunday.

I’m looking forward to hearing the crowds cheer me on

2oth April 2018

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) website features a blog post every Friday throughout the year. This Sunday (22nd April) will see over 50,000 professional and amateur runners take on the London Marathon course. One runner tackling the 26 mile and 385 yard course is 25 year old Anthony Hornby. Today, Anthony tells us how hard he has been training for his second London Marathon and how being active helps his mind stay clear and focused.


Hi I’m Anthony, I’m 25 years old and live in Holyport, Berkshire. I have Oral Dyspraxia and Dyslexia, along with some learning difficulties.

I’ll be running my second London Marathon on Sunday and I’m doing it in aid of SportsAble – a disability sports club that encourages disabled people to be their best at one or many different types of sport. I’m a longstanding member and it’s here that I first gave athletics a go. In fact in the autumn of 2016 the staff at SportsAble encouraged me to take part in the Windsor Half Marathon.

I took to the training plan quite well and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. My finishing time at that event was good, so since then I went on to do other Half Marathons and the London Marathon. My motivation to take part in the London Marathon purely came from finding out that it is one of the world’s marathons to take part in, so I just had to do it and I’m really pleased to be running it again.

I love running, it gives you that freedom to be yourself and to set goals and achieve them. I also enjoy taking part in other sports at SportsAble. I play pool for the club team, I golf and assist our disabled golfers each week, plus I enjoy rifle shooting and since taking this sport on seriously I have become a range officer. I have always been a very sporty individual but rugby is my favourite sport. I play for the Maidenhead Rugby Club, at which I’ve been a member at for a long time.

I really enjoy feeling fit, strong and capable and taking part in these activities helps me maintain that feeling.

It used to be that walking helped my mind stay clear and focused. Whenever I was feeling confused or overwhelmed I would go for a walk. Now I run regularly and I find that it helps me remain calm. It helps me feel in control of my life too and I feel I can do anything.

So, what I began to realise is that playing a sport or running makes me feel fantastic. I do get tired sometimes but I just focus on the goals I am setting and make sure I eat more!

My training for the London Marathon has gone well. I’ve been training with the Maidenhead Athletic Club as some members are also doing it and I’ve run three half marathons over the past couple of months as well.

I’m gearing myself up for the day itself, which I’m really looking forward to now – I really love the atmosphere. I’ve got my running number now and can’t wait to go to the Expo at the ExCel Centre to pick up my running pack.

My goal is to beat last years’ time of 4 hours and 12 minutes. I’m looking forward to hearing the crowds cheer me and the other runners on. My family will be there on the day as well!  They are brilliant at supporting me so it will be great to see them there cheering me on.

I’m also quite active on Twitter, so usually before an event I’ll use social media to connect with people and share my training and results – the support I receive this way is really heart-warming too.

I have several half marathons lined up for the rest of the year, then in the autumn the rugby season starts again so I’ll be focusing on the new season.

My advice to other disabled people wanting to take part in sport or get active is – just give a go. Find a sport that is for you and if you can, join somewhere like SportsAble.

The London Marathon will be shown on BBC 1 on Sunday 22 April from 8:30am. Follow Anthony’s London Marathon journey via his Twitter channel @AnthonyGamerUK.

In other news: Good luck to Anthony and all the other runners taking part in the London Marathon this Sunday. On saturday 16th june the 42nd metro athletics open will be held at mile end stadium. 

Goalball UK launches National Schools Competition Programme

17th April 2018

Goalball UK is launching its first National Schools Competition Programme, thanks to an unprecedented funding grant from BBC Children in Need. The grant of nearly £100,000 will support the delivery of after school goalball activities and competitive opportunities for children with visual impairments.


Goalball UK is the national governing body for the only sport specifically created for blind and partially sighted people. They aim to raise the profile of the sport throughout the UK, promote participation at all levels and achieve success on the international stage.

The sport has been awarded a grant of nearly £100,000 to deliver a new National Schools Competition Programme for blind, partially sighted and disadvantaged children and young people.

The programme will work with children aged under 11, all the way up to under 18s, improve coaching within schools and provide competitive opportunities through the new programme.

Mark Winder, Chief Executive Officer of Goalball UK, said: 

“We’re thrilled to receive such a generous grant from BBC Children in Need and can’t wait to get this new programme under way. All too often visually impaired (VI) children and young people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities.

“70% of the estimated 25,000 blind and VI children in the UK are in mainstream school. But it is a sad reality that many do not have equal access to sport in school due to their additional needs – isolating them from their peers and denying them the skills, exercise and psychological benefits of team sport.

“We hope this new initiative will go some way to addressing this issue by making goalball accessible to both sighted and VI children in a school setting. As the sport is played with blackout goggles, anyone can participate, allowing VI and non-VI people to compete on an even playing field.”

Mark continues:

“The ambition is to build on after-school engagement to create regional and, eventually, national tournaments so we can give disadvantaged children the chance to compete in world class venues.

“BBC Children in Need is an inspirational charity. I would like to thank them for believing in us and look forward to working with them to transform even more lives.”

Isabel Farnell, Regional Head of the North at BBC Children in Need said:

“It’s fantastic news that we have awarded new funding to projects like Goalball UK. Over the coming months, this project will work with disadvantaged children and young people in the local community to make a tangible and lasting difference to their lives.”

Goalball was originally devised as a rehabilitation programme for blind and partially sighted soldiers returning from World War II.  Since then, the sport has grown in popularity and there are now 11 extra domestic tournaments on the annual Goalball UK event calendar.

For more information about Goalball and the new National Schools Competition Programme, visit Goalball UK website.

In other news: Sense Sport Job Opportunity – Regional Sports Coordinator (London)

Commonwealth Games gold medalist cheers on future para-swimming stars

17th April 2018

Over 100 young para-swimming hopefuls from across the country showed form this weekend (14-15 April 2018) at the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships. Commonwealth Games’ champion, Alice Tai, fresh from her gold and silver medal success on the Gold Coast, cheered them on in Southampton.

Picture by Richard Blaxall/ – 14/04/2018 – Swimming – EFDS National Junior Para Swimming Champs – The Quays, Southampton, England – Louise Storey of Hoddesdon in action during the Women’s Open 100m Freestyle

The event saw swimmers aged between 10-18 years old compete in the short course event.

Amongst swimmers celebrating personal bests and medal winning performances, Colchester’s Ellie Challis broke a British record in the SB2 50m Breaststroke (classification for physical impairments). She bettered her own time last recorded at last year’s National Para-Swimming Championships in Manchester, with 1.15.57. She commented:

“I feel really good about beating my own record in the SB2 50m Breaststroke. However, my biggest achievement was knocking 10 seconds off my personal best in the 50m Backstroke.”

Competitors also had the opportunity to meet special guest Alice Tai. She joined a packed crowd after returning from a successful Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. There she won a gold in the S9 100m Backstroke and a silver in the S9 100m Freestyle. Tai began her competitive swimming career in this pool and went on to take part in this national junior event. This weekend’s swimmers were delighted to have her support. She commented:

“It’s really nice being back here at the Quays in Southampton. I remember having my first ever meet here back in 2010, so it was literally the very start of my journey.

“To be able to host events like the National Junior-Para Swimming Championships with so many young para-swimmers is really important. It makes everyone realise there is a community within para swimming and these young swimming hopefuls are experiencing their first steps into that.

“My advice to these junior para-swimmers would be to just enjoy it because nobody can take that away from you.”

Picture by Richard Blaxall/ – 14/04/2018 – Swimming – EFDS National Junior Para Swimming Champs – The Quays, Southampton, England – Local swimmer Alice Tai returns from the Commonwealth Games for England with a Gold Medal in the 100m Backstroke S10 and a Silver Medal in the 100m Freestyle S9

Para-swimmer Ellen Stephenson, one of the competitors from the weekend said:

“My Saturday afternoon swimming went much better than the morning as I wasn’t using all my power but overall I’m happy with my performance. I came away with four S14 group bronze medals and two personal bests!

“It’s really important to come to events like this one as it gives me a chance to show what I can do. I’ve also really enjoyed meeting other people. It was really good meeting Alice Tai. She gave me some really good advice and encouragement.”

The event, organised by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and supported by Swim England, was the first time Southampton hosted the event. The unique partnership between these two organisations aims to increase the opportunities and talent development of young disabled swimmers. Organisers were also proud to work with SOS as an event supporter.

EFDS is a national charity that exists to make active lives possible. Established in September 1998, EFDS has a vision that disabled people are active for life. Working towards this vision, EFDS enables organisations to support disabled individuals be and stay active.

Full competition results are available online at

In Other News:The 42nd Metro Athletics Open will be held at Mile End Stadium on Saturday 16th June

Disability and sport call for evidence

Friday 13 April 2018


West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has issued a call for evidence about disability and sport – in a bid to get people moving more on a daily basis.

The call – under the banner of the ‘West Midlands on the Move’ physical activity strategy – aims to ignite a social movement across the region with the long-term aim of making physical activity the norm.

It demonstrates the combined authority’s commitment to reducing the region’s current levels of physical inactivity and inequalities and harnessing the potential of physical activity to improve people’s quality of life.

The WMCA physical activity team is collaborating with disability and sport special interest organisations to understand what is needed to improve the life chances of disabled people in the West Midlands.

Ultimately the aim is to become an exemplar region for numbers of physically active disabled people.

The WMCA Disability and Physical Activity working group aims to produce a report for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor by July 2018, setting out recommendations on what is needed to achieve this ambition.

Physical activity strategic lead Simon Hall said:  “We know there is lots of good and promising practice in the region, but 30% of adults in the West Midlands are still physically inactive along with 48.9% of disabled adults.

“As well as collating good practice and gaining invaluable insight from disabled people, we are launching a Disability and Physical Activity Call for Evidence to inform how we tackle this issue.”

More information from Sue Parker on 0121 214 7802 / 07917 456866 /

In Other News: We have six partner organisations across England, including Disability Centre for Sheffield Independent Living.


Junior Para Swimmers splash out in Southampton this weekend

Tuesday 10th April 2018

This weekend (14-15 April 2018) will see over 100 young swimming hopefuls from across the country take part in the National Junior Para Swimming Championships. It will be the first time Southampton has hosted the event.

Photo credit: Cerebral Palsy Sport

Organised by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and supported by Swim England, the unique partnership aim is to increase opportunities and talent development for young disabled swimmers.

The event will see swimmers aged 10-16 years old compete in the short course event, comprising; 50m and 100m Freestyle, 50m and 100m Backstroke, 50m Breaststroke, 150m and 200m Individual Medley and 50m and 100m Butterfly.

Emily-Jane Surgeoner, 11, who is competing as an S9, SB9 and SM9 para-swimmer, said:

“I have been training really hard for this event. I’m looking forward to seeing if all my training is making a difference. Most importantly I just want to swim well, my goal is to make a number of qualifying times so that I can swim at my first British Para International Swim Meet at the end of May. Of course, my other goal is to have improved on my overall times too.”

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS, said:

“For many swimmers here this weekend it will be their first national competition experience. This is testament to the amount of work delivered at grassroots level to introduce new swimmers and grow participation. We’re proud to be bringing the event to the South coast this year- our thanks go to Swim England, SOS, Southampton City Council and Active Nation for their support.”


Spectators will be able to buy tickets at the venue on the day. Details are as follows:

Event: National Junior Para-Swimming Championships 2018

Venue: The Quays, 27 Harbour Parade, Southampton, SO15 1BA

Dates: Saturday 14 April – Sunday 15 April 2018

Saturday: Session one, race starts at 9am. Session two, race starts at 2pm

Sunday: Session three, race starts at 9am


Start lists and results will be available online. Follow the event conversation with the hashtag #JuniorParaSwim18.

For further information, please contact:

  • Jannine Walker, National Events Manager. Email: Jannine  Mobile: 07725 273158
  • Laila Issa, Communications Advisor. Email Laila  Mobile: 07794 525034

In other news:The England Talent Day for players with a disability will be held on Sunday 6th May 2018

England Talent Day- Players Required

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Do you have any footballers (or know any footballers) within your club, school, organisation or programmes that have a disability?

The England Talent Day for players with a disability will be on:

 Sunday 6th May 2018, 10:00am-13:00pm

At West Riding County FA, Leeds, LS26 8NX

We are looking for players aged 7-16 to meet the following criteria;


  • AMPUTEE (male)
  • BLIND (male)
  • DEAF (male)
  • DEAF (female)

There is a poster (which you can share with your contacts) and a player registration form which needs to be signed by the parents of those who are interested in attending the England Talent Day.

If you know any players that fit into the above criteria and believe they have a very good opportunity to progress in the England Talent Pathway then please provide the following information to Colan Leung  as soon as possible:

-First Name

-Family name

– Date of Birth

-Year Group (7-11 or 12-16)

– Impairment

– Home Address

– Post Code

– Contact Number

-E-mail Address

In Other News: Celebrating Disability Sport in Sheffield


Celebrating Disability Sport in Sheffield

Thursday 5th  April

Video from Within Reach has a range of examples of people with disabilities being physically active at different levels

At Get Yourself Active we like examples of people with disabilities getting active whether in blog posts like this one or videos.

This is why we’re sharing “Within Reach- The story so far” on our website. This is a nearly four minute long video that invites people to see what has been going on in the world of disability sport and physical activity in the city of Sheffield. It can be seen here or below:

Within Reach – The Story So Far from Vox Multimedia on Vimeo.

The video celebrates the range of disability sports opportunities available to people of all ages and abilities across Sheffield. And provides information about how the city’s sports and activity programme developed from 1989 after the World Student games, whether through the work of Within Reach or the partner organisations that joined it. Please look at “Within Reach- The story so far” and share it with any individuals or organisations who you think may be interested.

Also worth mentioning is that Sheffield has a Disability Sports Network in the city, chaired by Dawn Wood of the Links School Sports Partnership. If you’re interested in getting involved with the network then do email

In Other News: We have six partner organisations across England, including Disability Centre for Sheffield Independent Living.


Bryerley Springs Equestrian Centre Gains Accessibility Mark Accreditation

Thursday 4 April

A Milton Keynes equestrian centre has secured an accreditation to a national scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up horse riding.

With the mental and physical benefits of horse riding well documented, the centre hopes its Accessibility Mark accreditation will help reach out to a wider group of riders.

The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of opening up more opportunities for disabled people to participate in riding.

Following an appeal for more volunteers, the centre’s staff, including the new team of volunteers participated in a compulsory training day with an ASO (Accessibility Support Officer).

The training focused on the challenges faced by disabled riders and lesson planning, to enable staff to make the sessions productive and safe whilst keeping them fun and interactive.

The Pony Club-approved centre currently offers lesson to riders of all ages and abilities, delivered by qualified staff who have all received training in child protection/safeguarding and first aid.

As well as riding lessons, the centre also provide lessons to NVQ level in Horse Care. Just spending time with horses can promote a general sense of well-being and improve confidence, something the centre hopes they can achieve with both ridden and un-mounted sessions.

A spokesperson from Bryerley Springs Riding Centre said: “Brylerley Springs is a great place to learn to ride and we pride ourselves on the welcoming atmosphere our clients experience. We really hope to be able to open up our doors to more members of the community with the message that horse riding is an activity that is available to everyone.

“The Accessibility Mark accreditation demonstrates our ability to safely and confidently accommodate riders with a range of disabilities and the support from the RDA means we can seek advice where necessary to ensure every rider can set achievable goals.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

For further information contact Bryerley Springs Equestrian Centre on 01525 261 823 or visit

There are currently 47 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

In other news: Introducing Leo Capella Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active

Introducing Leo Capella Communications Officer for Get Yourself Active

Thursday 5 April 2018

Leo Capella, new communications officer for Get Yourself Active introduces himself.


I hope that you had a good bank holiday weekend.

Leanne Wightman the programme officer is away for the next six months.  So I have the  absolute pleasure of taking over this website from Kirsty Mulvey while she focuses on working with our existing partner organisations and engaging new ones.  For those who don’t know me I’m the former Campaign Project Coordinator at I Can Make It, another project that Disability Rights UK works on.

I’m also on the autistic spectrum and I love sport, at least for the most part as an armchair fan. I used to do a lot as a kid and then as a young adult whether through occupational therapy and school sports. Or sailing which I did a lot at both solo and as part of a crew, sometimes competitively, sometimes sponsored, other times just for the fun of messing around on the water. But somehow between jobs, creative writing and campaigning I lost my way on keeping myself active apart from walking my dogs both past and present . So I’m not as active as I should be. Hopefully being part of this campaign will change that!

Also Disability Rights UK is an organisation made up of clever people who like doing clever projects that help people with disabilities participate equally in society on their own terms (and we love it that our funders  and six partners from across England do too).

Hopefully in the next six months I can show you just how we all work to give other people with disabilities choice and control (which is crucial) on how they get and keep active within their lives. This will be through our various updates including our newsletter that goes out at the end of the month (if you haven’t signed up already you should) and some content from our partners (including hopefully our project coordinators) who do excellent jobs in their areas.

I’d also encourage you to look at our films about getting active as well as why our campaign was launched.

We’ve got another film coming in out the future so please do keep an eye out for it. And don’t forget that we’d love to share your stories about the work you do with personal budgets to get disabled people active as well your own stories about getting active as people with disabilities. So do get in contact with us.  

For my part I am trying to take up a martial art as I’ve always wanted to learn one (any autism friendly Iaido instructors out there)? Who knows time permitting there may be a blog post or two about that or getting back out the water sailing.

In any case thanks for reading and looking forward to hearing from some of you soon.

In other news: I’m not the only new thing happening in the disability sports/ physical activity world. Check out this video by Cerebral Palsy Sport about a clever new form of racing for people with cerebral palsy called RaceRunning.

Motability announces new Director

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Motability, the charity which provides a ‘road to freedom’ for disabled people and their families through the Motability Scheme throughout the United Kingdom, are pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Atkinson CBE to the role of Director, effective from 21 May 2018.

Paul Atkinson was appointed following an open recruitment and selection process undertaken by the Governors of Motability.  He succeeds the current Director, Declan O’Mahony, who decided in 2017 to step down following 16 years of dedicated service to Motability.

Paul Atkinson joins Motability following a very successful and varied career in the Royal Air Force where he was a senior Air Battlespace Manager.  Paul achieved the rank of Group Captain and was sent on 15 diverse tours of duty, four overseas (including German Air Force Exchange), and six operational deployments including Afghanistan, the Falklands and Belize.  He commanded the Royal Air Force Air Surveillance and Control Force responsible for national and NATO early warning and air defence.  He has a strong track record of achievement whilst motivating large and diverse teams to achieve sustained success.

Chairman and co-founder of Motability, Lord Sterling, said:

“The Governors and I would like to thank Declan for his excellent contribution in delivering Motability’s strategic objectives over the past 16 years and we wish him and his family well for future years.  We look forward to Paul Atkinson bringing his own particular skills to the role and working with us to drive Motability even further forward, in order to transform and enhance the lives of disabled people and their families”.

In other news: Instructability helped me learn to be me again

InstructAbility helped me learn to be me again

Thursday 29 March 2018

This week’s personal experience blog comes from Wendy Hall, who when she couldn’t find a gym she liked decided to train as a gym instructor herself

In 2008 I had a blackout and fell down stairs. I broke my neck at C5/6/7 cervical level, which essentially means everything below the break is affected and I had instant paralysis from the neck down. Some of my friends and family were always hopeful I would get some sort of recovery as I was physically fit and always did exercise, used weights and gone to the gym, but I know how lucky I am to have achieved any recovery, feeling or movement due to the level and severity of my injury.

Soon after the accident I was lying in bed, not being able to move, but still trying to work out how I was ever getting back to the gym.

I thought it would be a very difficult road ahead for me – and I was right.  Some days were harder than others with several gyms and personal medical struggles trying to hold me back. The attitude towards me was unexpected, especially from lots of staff and members who knew  me; it was like I had two heads and was contagious! I was offered no support, no alternatives or adapted induction to be able to re-learn equipment. I even struggled to enter the building, even with my partner’s support.

That’s when I decided it shouldn’t be the case for others….

I did some voluntary work with Aspire, a spinal cord charity, which led me down the path of becoming a gym instructor again after my accident. Aspire has a great InstructAbility programme which provides fitness industry training for disabled people. I used to teach aerobics classes before my accident, and so the training for me was a brilliant opportunity and helped me to feel like the ‘old me’ again.

Although my spinal injury can make things challenging at times, being active helps. Practical exercises support me with everyday functions like getting about and some flexibility, which can be challenging with my nerve damage.

While in the gym as a volunteer, I decided I wanted to start an Inclusive Circuits class when I became qualified.  I wanted to create and give more opportunities to bring more people together. It was (and still is) so apparent there are very few inclusive classes in gyms; the issues I had faced just seemed to be all too common.  Anyone is welcome to join in with us, and anything can happen. My class has been doing so well and is popular with regular participants!! There are many abilities, and we all come together to exercise and some of the transformations have been amazing for individuals.

Any top tips or recommendations?

I’d say most of all, keep looking and trying to do something you like and enjoy. Whatever you can manage today, may get you through tomorrow. Family and friends will see you through, and will help where they can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Charities for example, can offer much more than just financial support, they can help with all sorts of things. Without Aspire, who knows where I would (or wouldn’t) be today. I have a lot to thank a stubborn practical attitude, and Aspire for.

I think I had all but given up on trying to progress, so the opportunity to be supported in teaching in exercise again I couldn’t miss out on. I just wanted something to remind me of some part of ‘me’ before my accident, I could hardly remember with struggling with so many things after coming back home from hospital. I never realised how soul destroying coming home would be, but I couldn’t give up trying to find another me.

In taking on the InstructAbility gym course it set me challenges I wasn’t sure I would manage. From taking on a full course including written and practical work, and trying to manage a job as well, it was so difficult. It was exhausting and painful, physically and mentally, but I wanted to do well and kept believing I could.

Doing the gym course, with other disabled people helped me learn to be me again and have some confidence to be me again. Staff and gym users (at Portway Lifestyle Centre, Sandwell Leisure Trust) knew nothing about me, other than I was a qualified gym instructor on a voluntary placement.

Challenging myself has been the best thing, as well as the hardest. If it was easy it wouldn’t be so worthwhile.

It’s been life changing , almost literally for me.

It’s given me confidence to speak to people again, look people in the eye, learn to be in the gym exercising again and learn to enjoy being with others and be in my own skin. I had hated myself for a long time, felt worthless and pointless. I’m finding my new me, even though it’s taken about 7 years though (I’m now 10 years post-accident).

I’m stronger mentally, growing in confidence, happy to speak with others , and importantly I’ve seen I can encourage others, especially with mixed ability. To see others grow in self confidence and personality is so inspiring to me.  I’m doing things I never would have before, like outdoor rowing, and I’m taking those who want to try new things with me too.

I’m proud to have my disability now and to be able to inspire, encourage and see others grow. My journey could have been so different and, more importantly, without those who I love and live with who have always encouraged me and see how difficult it is, it was and still will be. I’m lucky and very grateful to many, but I spread lots of thank you’s wherever I can. Usually cake & a cuppa, that’s never changed.

Even though I still used my wheelchair, but it never stopped me pushing forwards.

In other news Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

Step Change Studios invite you to attend their first professional showcase

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Fusion is the UK’s first inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance-inspired showcase, presented by Step Change Studios. Fusion brings together talented professional artists from a wide range of dance backgrounds to push the boundaries of ballroom with beautiful, powerful, performances that redefine the genre.

Fusion is an experiment and creative exploration between disabled and non-disabled artists from backgrounds that include Charleston, Swing, Contemporary and Street to develop original pieces inspired by Latin and Ballroom dance.

Dance, in all forms draws influence from different styles, settings, and stories. Dancers’ physical form influences the artistic and performance process. Fusion brings these together through playful, creative collaborations that aim to question our ideas about Latin and Ballroom dance and dancers.

When: Wednesday 9 May at 8pm
Where: Lilian Baylis Studio, Rosebery AvenueLondonEC1R
Find out more information here: Fusion
Extras: The performance will be followed by a post-show discussion
Free to ticket holders. BSL interpreted.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Supported by the Dance Enterprise Ideas Fund – an East London Dance initiative.

In other news: Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon voucher

SportsAble appoints new COO and directors to support growth ambitions

Tuesday 13 March 2018

SportsAble, a sports club in Berkshire which specialises in delivering multiple sports to people with a disability and their families, has appointed a Chief Operations Officer and bolstered its Trustee and Enterprise Boards.

This process has taken place over the last 12 months and prepares the organisation for an expansion of services.

Miranda Wilsnagh becomes new COO of SportsAble

Established in 1975, SportsAble is a registered charity that has been playing a vital role in the community for more than 40 years.  It is governed and managed by a Board of Trustees, many of whom are also founding members of the charity. In 2015, an Enterprise Board was established. This Board reports directly in to the Board of Trustees and is responsible for generating and managing income which is then fed back into the charity and the day to day operation of the facility.

Kerl Haslam, CEO at SportsAble, says:

“We are an ambitious organisation. Over the next 18 months we have big plans to enhance our provision, creating even more accessible and varied opportunities for disabled people in the Thames Valley to enjoy an active lifestyle. We already deliver 20 physical activity sessions per week, across 15 sports and serve a loyal membership of 365 members, but, we want to do more.

“We are in talks with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead regarding the development of new premises on our existing site in Braywick Park, Maidenhead. Our facilities have served us well but they are tired and in need of modernisation.  We are also exploring an opportunity to launch a franchise model to create a national network of SportsAble clubs, extending the service we provide to other communities across the country and enabling inter-club competition. In addition, we are also keen to extend our community outreach programme through connections with local hospitals and schools. Not everyone is able to visit our premises so we want to take more of our services out into the community.

“All of these projects are the driving force behind the recent COO and Board appointments. Yes, the plans are ambitious but with the right skills, knowledge and experience I am confident we can achieve them.”

Joining the organisation as COO is Miranda Wilsnagh. With 21 years’ experience running her own IT recruitment business and more recently working in the charity sector as a councillor and advisor, Miranda’s main role will be on unifying and motivating the staff team as well as overseeing general operations. The post is full time and will enable the CEO, Kerl Haslam, to focus on strategic planning, income generation and partner relations.

Commenting about her appointment, Miranda says:

“I have spent my entire professional life helping individuals fulfil their potential. I intend to continue to do this at SportsAble, both with the staff team and the members. The charity has huge potential and I am looking forward to making a contribution which will push the charity towards a successful and sustainable future.”

Joining the Enterprise Board are: Jo Croft, Head of Finance; Tim Bowley, Team Building and Junior Sports; Lynne Kuschel, MBE, Volunteer Manager; William Wilsnagh, Strategy and Business Development.

Joining the Trustee Board are: Aly Lewis, Lawyer; Sharon Bridge, Swimming Coach and Fundraising; Steve Palmer, Fundraising and Social Media; Jonathon Madden, Social Media; Harp Bamrah, Corporate Sponsorship.

All new members underwent a rigorous interview and induction process before their applications were accepted. Haslam adds:

“The level of talent we have attracted has surpassed my expectations. I am really looking forward to working with such an accomplished group of individuals.”

Speaking about his reasons for joining the Enterprise Board, Tim Bowley, says:

“SportsAble delivers an invaluable service to the community and it is important that we find new ways to protect the sustainability of the charity through the exploitation of existing income streams and the development of new opportunities. Working alongside the other Enterprise Board members and liaising closely with the Board of Trustees, I look forward to introducing new practices, ideas and innovations that will keep the charity providing a much-needed service to the community for many years to come.”

In other news: British Blind Sport and UK Deaf Sport want to hear from you

Double delight as ParalympicsGB take super-G silver and bronze

Monday 12 March 2018

There was double delight for ParalympicsGB’s visually impaired Para alpine skiers on day two, with two medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.

Millie Knight and Brett Wild secured their second silver medal of the Games with a fantastic run in the super G, while Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe showed their fearless attitude when they bounced back from the disappointment of not completing the downhill event on day one to win bronze.

A jubilant Knight said:

“If I’d thought I would have two medals in two days at the Paralympics I would have said you are crazy. This time four years ago I was sat in the crowd watching Kelly (Gallagher) win gold and now I’ve made the podium myself.”

Their success on the slopes at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre means ParalympicsGB now has a fabulous three medals after just two days of competition.

In other news Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

Accessibility Mark Comes to Isle of Wight

Monday 12 March 2018


A riding centre on the Isle of Wight has become the latest centre to form an association with RDA through its Accessibility Mark scheme.

Island Riding Centre gained its accreditation following training and assessment and is now hoping to be able to expand its services to more disabled riders.

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

Set in stunning countryside, Island Riding Centre is the premier riding venue on the Isle of Wight, and benefits from some of the best beach and countryside trails in the UK. 

The Association of British Riding Schools centre prides itself on providing riding opportunities for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest riders and people with limited physical abilities. Their aim is to not only provide fun but also help development and maybe find a potential future riding star.

Accessibility for disabled riders at the centre is un-rivalled in the area, with the newly built facility being design based on recommendation from RDA. The site is fully accessible for wheelchair users and has an access ramp to help with mounting.

As the centre is based in a popular holiday location, they have developed a range of self-catering holiday accommodation with four of the units suitable for disabled people, having being built to the guidelines of the National Accessible Scheme for Disabled Access.

Centre manager Tian Hughes said: “We contacted the RDA to enquire about our options for teaching disabled riders and they recommended the Accessibility Mark scheme, as the most suitable avenue for the centre.

“The scheme allows us to tap into the experience of such a well-respected organisation and is attractive to our clients as it demonstrates the gold standard, giving confidence that they are in safe and capable hands.

“When the staff attended the training day, they were all incredibly impressed with the vast amount of knowledge displayed by the ASO (Accessibility Support Officer), which focused on good practice on things such as mounting.

“We were already teaching some disabled riders with minor physical and learning disabilities but hope to expand this further using our fantastic facilities and with the help and support of RDA.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

For further information contact Island Riding Centre on 01983 214000 or visit

There are currently 45 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

For more information contact Jacqueline Spouge or Tim Smith at TSM on 01724 784600.

In other news Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

British Blind Sport and UK Deaf Sport want to hear from you

Tuesday 6 March 2018

UK Deaf Sport and British Blind Sport want to better understand people with hearing and/or visual impairments and their use of leisure centres

The two organisations are working in partnership to better understand people with hearing and/or visual impairments and their use of leisure centres to help develop accessibility recommendations for leisure operators nationwide.

Click here to take part in the short survey:

Please promote this survey or share this information with any contacts you feel would be interested to help us achieve their objectives.

A word version of this survey is available on request or to complete the form over the phone, please contact British Blind Sport on 01926 424 247 or email The deadline to complete this survey is 1st April 2018.

In other news: GOGA star mentor wins prestigious Torch Trophy Trust award

GOGA star mentor wins prestigious Torch Trophy Trust award

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Disability Rights UK is thrilled to announce that one of our star mentors on the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Peer Support Project has won a prestigious Torch Trophy Trust award for Outstanding Contribution to Inclusivity.

The GOGA Peer Support Project, run by Disability Rights UK (in partnership with English Federation of Disability Sport- EFDS) trains active disabled people to become mentors to work one to one with another disabled person who wants to be active but might be experiencing barriers such as low confidence.

Morris Nelson, 49, from Lambeth, South London has been a mentor to Stephen Wells. Morris experienced a breakdown a few years ago following the loss of his job. He felt he had lost his identity, was under pressure to support his family and really struggled to re-build his confidence.  He has since made a remarkable recovery and used volunteering on GOGA as a way to build his self-esteem and fulfil his love of supporting others, volunteering in more than 5 different roles over the past 3 years including setting up a football club, Furzedown United.

Following ‘Making A Great Mentor’ training, he and Stephen started working together in June 2017 by taking up yoga- an activity new to both of them. Within 3 months they had both become more physically active, tried other new activities like walking and aerobics and both have reported increases in their confidence and mental wellbeing.

Stephen has a history of depression and mental health problems and before working with Morris he struggled to even get out of the house. “I felt low, I lacked motivation to do things. I knew I wanted to get active but it seemed so hard to take the first step. Joining GOGA and working with Morris has changed my life. He was there alongside me when I took my first go at yoga and slowly he helped me to set small goals, motivating me at each step. I now go to exercise classes six times a week and help Morris with his football club at the weekends! Morris has inspired me to become a mentor and help other disabled people to be active- something I never thought I would do”.

Morris says,

“I’m thrilled to have won this award, there are no words! Stephen’s journey has been amazing. He went from being this shy, unconfident person to someone who’s not afraid to get out there and try new things. He has started volunteering and has even come forward now to become a mentor himself. He motivates and teaches me new things, sometimes I forget who the mentor is! GOGA Peer Support has upskilled me, made me more employable and helped give me direction, this programme should be available to everyone”.

Morris has now progressed to the role of Mentor Co-Ordinator helping Disability Rights UK to run the Peer Support Programme in Lambeth with local organisation Disability Advice Service Lambeth. Both he and Stephen share their story and experiences of mentoring to train and inspire new mentors to sign up and help with outreach, raising awareness of the project to professionals interested in peer support.

Kate Pieroudis, Disability Rights UK’s GOGA Peer Support Lead says,

“This award rewards Morris’ commitment to supporting others, his excellent achievement as a mentor and demonstrates the ways that peer support- sharing experiences and skills and physical activity can change someone’s life. The GOGA Programme is a great example of partnership working, bringing together expertise from EFDS and 10 other national partners of which Disability Rights UK is one”.

The Torch Trophy Trust was founded in 1962 commemorating the two 1948 Olympic torches made for the last leg of the Olympic relay, one presented to a Commander Collins, who presented it to the Torch Trophy Trust. He believed the Olympic ideal, symbolised by the torch, could also be an inspiration for men and women working quietly in their own small corners of the world of sport.

For press enquiries or more information, please contact:

Kate Pieroudis, Peer Support Lead, Disability Rights UK on 07715 960710 or

More information:




In other news: Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people

Raising the Bar for Disabled Riders with Accessibility Mark

Tuesday 6 March 2018

A Berkshire riding stables has become the latest equestrian facility to gain accreditation with a national scheme to provide more riding opportunities for disabled people.

Cloud Stables based in Reading has successfully fulfilled the necessary criteria to become an Accessibility Mark Centre. Established since 1972, Cloud Stables provides lessons for riders of all abilities, using their fantastic facilities that boast both an indoor and outdoor arena.

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

Having run an RDA group in the past, the centre wanted to change direction to offer a wider range of services to their clients.

The introduction of Accessibility Mark has allowed the centres’ BHS qualified instructors to challenge riders with less severe disabilities to realise their full potential.

Kate Matthews, Yard Manager at Cloud Stables said:

“Accessibility Mark fitted perfectly with our vision for the future of our centre and it was easy to incorporate within the mainstream riding school.

“The biggest selling point of the scheme for us was the training and support from the RDA, and our staff are excited and full of enthusiasm following the session with the ASO (Accessibility Support Officer).

“Being able to tap into the knowledge and experience of the RDA has also given confidence to our instructors to bring more variety to lessons, which will undoubtedly benefit our riders.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

For further information or to book a lesson please contact Cloud Stables on 0118 976 1522 or visit

There are currently 45 Accessibility Mark Approved Centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

In other news: Help shape national guidelines aimed at disabled people and their supporters to help increase take up of physical activity and receive a £30 Amazon voucher


Personal Health Budget Experience Survey

Thursday 1 March 2018

Do you currently have a personal health budget or integrated personal budget? Or maybe you’ve had one in the past?

Share your experiences in a new online survey open from 1 March to 31 April 2018. Play your part in helping to improve how personal health budgets are offered in England.

Take part in the survey here:

In other news: Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people

UKSA Board Announce Changes for 2018 and Beyond

Thursday 1 March 2018

At its last meeting of 2017, the UK Sports Association Trustee Board embraced change and agreed a new focus to be included in its plans for 2018 and beyond.

With UKSA’s international federation, Inas, introducing two new trial classes in 2017 in athletics, swimming and table tennis, the Board agreed that both trial classes II2, for athletes with a more significant intellectual impairment and II3, for athletes with high functioning autism be included in its plans and strategy moving forward.

In practice this will mean class II2, which includes athletes with Down syndrome, will accept applications to the classification process.  Additionally where UKSA considers entries to Inas events, it will, where performances warrant it, consider athletes in this new trial class. For class II3, UKSA will begin exploring, how and by what means, a pathway for this new Inas trial class can be established.  UKSA will begin and grow the debate, in partnership with its Home Country stakeholders to explore grass roots to Inas performance opportunities.

UKSA is seeking new partners to support its work as it develops its new strategy for the future.  UKSA does not receive any Government or sports funding for its work and will also continue to seek alternative sponsorship and funding partners to underpin its ambitious plans to enhance opportunities for athletes with intellectual disability, Down syndrome and autism to create a sustainable future for performance sport, cultural change and inclusion.

Other significant decisions include the formal AGM approval of Genevieve Gordon, as a new Trustee for a 2 year term, and plans for the expansion of its Board by a further 3 independent trustees. Ms Gordon, a sports lawyer and CEO of Tactic Counsel, brings with her a wealth of experience from the legal, education and commercial sports sector.

In considering the sports programme, the Board agreed a full review of its target sports and Championships for 2018 and beyond, announcements on which will be made throughout the year.  The initial focus will be entering strong GB Team representation in a number of sports at the Inas European Summer Games in Paris, France in July 2018 and moving forward plans for the 2019 Inas Global Games.  To date, UKSA’s focus has been athletics, table tennis, cricket, tennis, football, cycling, judo and taekwondo.  2017 saw swimming reintroduced as well as the first GB representation at the inaugural Inas Equestrian Championships, where UKSA’s British athlete claimed a bronze medal.

Tracey McCillen, CEO UK Sports Association said

“It remains a challenging time for UKSA since the end of UK Sport core funding, but with a dedicated Board and support from volunteers, partners and stakeholders, we will continue to work together to strengthen the performance sport provision for athletes with intellectual impairment, Down syndrome and autism.  We want to see athletes represent Great Britain at Inas and other events, but our work also includes advocating the full inclusion of athletes in sport and society, whether as athletes, employees or Board members where they can reap the wide reaching benefits this approach offers.”

Bernard Atha CBE, President and Chairman UK Sports Association said

“UKSA has always looked to the future and had big aspirations for athletes but it’s been hindered by the sport funding structure in the UK.  That remains a barrier.  DCMS and others need to recognise that elite performance is wider than Paralympics alone, invest in organisations that support the athletes and truly deliver the promises from London 2012.  The athletes we work with deserve this at the very least.”

The UK Sports Association (UKSA) is the only official Great Britain member of Inas, the International Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment, Down syndrome and autism.

In other news: Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

Foundation Enterprises North West on pursuit of cup glory

Monday 26 February 2018

As part of the Get Yourself Active project in Cheshire, Cheshire Centre For Independent Living (CCIL) created a new link with Foundation Enterprises North West Housing (FENW) and Richmond Court.

Both organisations offer temporary accommodation opportunities to people who have currently no fixed residence.

During year 3 of the project CCIL managed to secure £500 from Cheshire FA to support a 5-a-side football session in partnership with the two housing organisations. The vision of the session was to formalise a “kick about” into an organised session that would provide the residents with a good quality experience taking place in the local community.

It soon became apparent that the group wanted to progress further and were keen to take part in local competitive matches. With the support of Cheshire FA, the group was affiliated to Chester City Football Club and now competes in the local Ability Counts Football League.

On Saturday 24th February the team took park in a local football tournament to celebrate the FA People’s Cup. The day was a huge success and the team managed to win the tournament progressing them on to the North West Finals which are due to take place in March.

We wish the team all the best in the pursuit of lifting the cup for Cheshire.


In other news: Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

Want to help make a change in the information disabled people receive about physical activity?

Thursday 22 February 2018

Help shape national guidelines aimed at disabled people and their supporters to help increase take up of physical activity and receive a £30 Amazon voucher

Disabled people are less likely than non-disabled people to take part in physical activity on a regular basis. One of the main reasons for this is that disabled people do not have access to the knowledge and information we need to make informed decisions about the benefits of physical activity and how we go about it.

The current Chief Medical Officer Guidelines are designed to inform the population about the benefits of physical activity. However, we have heard from many disabled people that they don’t feel the guidelines relate to them due to unrealistic expectations about what they as individuals can do.

The University of Birmingham is leading on a project in partnership with Public Health England to write a new set of evidence based guidelines coproduced with disabled people and disabled peoples organisations and academics.

Would you like to get involved in helping to shape these guidelines? If you are disabled and would like to take part in our focus groups please read on!!

Researchers will be running workshops in London, Leicester and Birmingham to get the views of individual disabled people, supported by Disability Rights UK and local partners.

How long?

Approximately 2 hours


London – Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London

Birmingham – University of Birmingham

Leicester  – LCiL, West End Neighborhood Centre, Andrewes Street, Leicester  LE3 5PA


London focus groups – 12th March at 11am and at 2pm

Birmingham – 13th March at 11am and  at 12noon

Leicester focus group – 14th March at 4pm

What’s in it for me? You will have the chance to help shape national guidelines aimed at disabled people and their supporters to help increase take up of physical activity. You will also receive a £30 Amazon voucher and get your travel expenses paid up to the amount of £110.

How do I sign up? Get in touch with Disability Rights UK to register your interest by Wednesday 28th February. Here are the contact details; Email: Leanne.Wightman@disabilityrightsuk.orgPhone: 0203 687 0781

We would love to hear from you, please get in touch!!

Grow the Game 2018 – £1.5 million funding boost for grassroots football

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Grow the Game, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and first launched back in 2010, offers grants to grassroots football clubs that wish to create new teams.

This year, applications are being encouraged from clubs who want to start:

  • Women and girls’ teams
  • Disability teams

Grow the Game grants help to reduce the costs associated with starting new grassroots football teams by making £1,500 available for each that a club creates. Expenditure that the funding can help a club pay for includes: FA coaching courses; FA league affiliation costs; referees’ fees; first aid kits; and even football kit and equipment through a bespoke voucher.

The application window for Grow the Game application is now open and closes on Thursday 29 March. Clubs seeking more information on the programme should contact Sheffield & Hallamshire County (contact details below) or visit

Grow the Game is inclusive of players from different genders, ethnic backgrounds, faiths, ages, sexual orientations and those with disabilities. Applications that originate from, or provide for, underrepresented communities are being encouraged.

In addition, male teams of Under-17s-and-upwards that already exist will soon be able to apply for support from a new FA, retention-focused scheme called Retain the Game, which will offer £1m to successful applicants and launch in April. It will allow open-age male teams to apply for financial support to aid their continued participation in the game.

In other news: Independent Travel Training in Doncaster

World Champion Wheelchair Racer Sammi Kinghorn prepares for Commonwealth Games 

Monday 19 February 2018

Double World Champion wheelchair racer and Scottish Sports Personality of the Year 2017, Sammi Kinghorn, is currently preparing for her biggest challenge yet, the 2018 Commonwealth Games this April in Australia.

Sammi started wheelchair racing after suffering an accident that left her paralysed below the waist at 14. Whilst recovering, her physiotherapist recognised Sammi’s athletic abilities and encouraged her to try out some sports. Sammi said:

“I tried lots of sports at the Spinal Unit Games at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and I discovered wheelchair racing, and immediately, that was me hooked.”

Sammi has since become an established name in wheelchair racing. She competed in Rio 2016, broke the world record for the 200m sprint, and became World Champion for both the 100m and 200m sprints. She’s now preparing to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast, with the aim to make it to the 1500m final.

In preparation for the games, Sammi has been training full-time; twice a day, six days a week:

“I’ve been mixing up gym work, track and rollers, and pushing on the road near Glasgow where I live. Everything has gone really well, and I’m happy with my placings for the Commonwealth.”

Sammi doesn’t see her disability as being relevant to her athletic career. She says,

“I still struggle when I am called “inspirational”, it is sport at the end of the day and I am chasing the same goals and dreams as those on the Olympic side!”.

Sammi will be competing for Team Scotland in the 1500m and Marathon race at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia in April. To follow Sammi’s journey, and read the full interview visit:

In other news: Meet Allie, the founder of a company which enables wheelchair users to access British hills and mountains.

Yorkshire Sport Foundation, Yorkshire LTA and the Tennis Foundation are looking to engage new audiences in tennis, whatever the format may be. 

Friday 16 February 2018

If you are a community group, club or project that would like to deliver an inclusive tennis session then we can help. It could be something new or an existing session where tennis can be introduced.

  • Up to £400 financial support
  • Inclusive tennis kit bag
  • Help and advice in setting your project up
  • For projects in South and West Yorkshire

For application guidance and a list of frequently asked questions, click here

To download the application form, click here

All the information and the application form can be found here:

If you are interested in supporting or creating an inclusive session that would involve individuals with learning disabilities then there may well be additional support available through either the Special Olympics West/South Yorkshire Networks.

Links to the application form and FAQs are above however if you would like to discuss individual project plans please feel free to contact James Cole, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, through email at or using by phone at 0330 20 20 280 or 07702 557008.

In other news: Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon Voucher

British Blind Sport announce National Youth Swimming Gala

Wednesday 14 February 2018

British Blind Sport are delighted to announce the National Youth Swimming Gala will take place on Saturday 5th May 2018 at Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, Solihull.

Hosted by British Blind Sport, this event has been held successfully for over 20 years and is the only VI specific youth swimming competition in the UK, always attracting participants from across the country. Open to all abilities whether you are a beginner or competitive swimmer come and have a go! Free entry for all blind and partially sighted children aged between 8 to 17 years old.

In addition to the main competition, this year BBS is excited to offer one to one or small group lessons for 5 to 7 years olds delivered by qualified coaches with experience of working with people with visual impairments.


Swimming events for freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle relay and medley relay 25m, 50m and 100m.

When and where

Venue: Tudor Grange Leisure Centre, Blossomfield Road, Solihull, Birmingham, B91 1NB
Date: Saturday 5th May 2018
Time: 2pm to 6pm

Get involved

To find out the latest information about the British Blind Sport Have a Go Days including dates, venues, sports and how to register for events, please visit the BBS Events page linked here.

Contact: Alex Pitts, Participation Officer
Telephone: 01926 424 247 or 07929 356428

To register, visit the Events page of the British Blind Sport website or click here.

Click to enlarge

Download the PDF version of the poster here: Swimming Gala Poster 2018

Download the Word document information leaflet here: BBS Swimming Gala Information Leaflet 2018

In other news: Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon Voucher

How To Coach Disabled People in Sport in Rotherham 20 March 2018

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Due to the success of the course Active Rotherham ran in December and the subsequent demand for another course, another How to Coach Disabled People in Sport course has been booked in for March

Please find below information on a CPD course led by UK Coaching (previously SportsCoach UK).

Date: Tuesday 20th March 2018
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Location: Herringthorpe Athletics Stadium
Cost: £35 per person however there is funding to help subsidise the cost of the course for local clubs and organisations. To discuss this please get in touch with Michala Wild

Suitable for all coaches, this workshop aims to answer the commonly asked questions about disabled sports participants and it will show you how, with a few minor adjustments to the way you work, you can make your coaching more inclusive and effective and will cover how to include disabled people in sport, selecting appropriate coaching activities and how to make your coaching more inclusive and effective

This workshop is a ‘Minimum Standard for Active Coaches’ requirement for many governing bodies of sport. The ‘Minimum Standards for Active Coaches’ are seen as the basic standard every coach needs to meet to carry out their role safely and effectively.

You will receive a copy of How to Coach Disabled People in Sport workbook and a certificate of attendance.

If you are interested then please get in touch with Michala Wild as soon as possible as places are limited. Email Michala Wild at or call 01709 363 355 or 07584 174 912. Places are limited to 2 per organisations however more places may become available nearer the course date.

In other news: Check out our events page for more events that might be taking place near you


Freedom of the Hills

Tuesday 13 February 2018

This week’s Personal Experience Blog is brought to us by our friends at Cox Bank Publishing, a small specialist publisher focusing on writing about physical activity and sport – specifically people writing in their own words what getting active means to them.

We love this story of how the possibility of being confined to her wheelchair inspired Allie to found a company which enables wheelchair users to access British hills and mountains. You can see more at the Freedom Wizard website here.

Freedom Wizard on Latrigg in the Lake District

Sat deflated in a hospital bed, barely around from the anesthetic and I heard the words “I’m afraid, it’s bad news”. I guessed the words were intended for me and what was said following was not processed. It could have been the drugs or it could have been my powerful mind not letting me hear. The next day I was more coherent. I had no movement in my right leg after an 8-hour reconstruction surgery, but I thought that was normal. I’d had an epidural on top of the anesthetic, but as my left leg came back into order, there was no change in my right leg. I couldn’t move it or feel it at all. Then reality hit – a major risk of the surgery was damage to the nerves. I carried confidence as my left leg had already had the same surgery 12 months prior – but reality told me I’d suffered damage, and a lot of it. It was true, I had come round from surgery but my leg hadn’t.

I lay in hospital thinking and writing, writing and thinking for hours on end, day after day for weeks. On reading my words I began to see they were relatively positive. They screamed out my upbeat attitude and focussed on the ‘Now What Scenario’ – I instantly began researching how I can cope, what will I do; so rather than listing what I couldn’t do, I focussed on my outdoor sports.

The gym is my idea of hell. Despite never playing truant at school I went on to become a serial avoider of physio classes! From a young age, largely brought up in the Lake District surrounded by mountains and water, I definitely was an outdoor sporty lass.

Allie Pennington

The serenity of the fells, the stillness of the tarns, the banter in the mountaineering clubs were sounds and sights that have been my favourite from childhood until now. But then, how can someone in a wheelchair enjoy the sights in the fells and be included in the mountaineering clubs? It was difficult, believe me. Many clubs refused on insurance grounds for a wheelie to be included. The majority of routes excluded wheelies with the horror obstacle otherwise known as a stile. Camping barns and hostels are seldom accessible and tents seemed pretty much out of the question.

As you can imagine, a lot of thought processing went on and researching cost us a fortune in internet cards at the hospital. It was on day two that I realised there is very little, so I went about finding stuff and writing an action plan of where, when and how I could access sport in my chair. Motivation was key and I was determined to continue my life as an outdoors life.

And then….3 months on….my leg did something bizarre, it made me jump out of my skin! It started to move in a spasm, but soon after I was able to get some movement in my knee. I promptly returned to the surgeons who set up a daily physio session and I am proud to say I didn’t miss a single one. To witness the movement returning was amazing and I cried happy tears daily. I’m chuffed to say I have regained almost full movement in the leg but even after 18 months of no feeling I was able to walk again after training my brain to do more work.

It’s hard work to have to consciously think about moving your foot, lifting it up over rough terrain, and having to concentrate even more so after a drink or two, but I did it. My leg is working again and the wheelchair was an unnecessary aid along with the eight sets of crutches I’d ‘accrued’ over the years!

The fells were possible after about 6 months – gentle steps, and small steps over easy terrain but I got to be there again. My days of mountaineering were still a thing of the past with inadequate range to climb and lack of build to cover distances I once did with ease.

The haunting of the prospect of being confined to my chair for life never left me and never will. It’s hard not to reflect on life after a traumatic experience, so when I was looking to change my career I thought of mentoring others who are in a similar position. As a speaker, I had the gift of the gab and having run my own business, my contact list was comprehensive. However, speaking and mentoring just didn’t feel right for me but the name of Freedom Wizard had already been thought of. After weeks of making notes and journal entries I had that lightbulb moment. There it is…I’ll set up an organisation enabling access to rugged Britain…so I did! And now I can say that I’m the founder of Freedom Wizard and proud driver of a van transporting all terrain wheelchairs around the country. Within the first three months, I have given access to more than thirty adults with restricted mobility, received a minibus and an electric chair as a donation and connected many organisations that are supporting each other.

On reflection, my initial fear of being confined to a wheelchair has given rise to an opportunity to those adults who may not be as fortunate as me. The work with Freedom Wizard is rewarding and there’s so much more to be done with access and growth. The fear was harnessed and driven to the place I am now and whilst it was born out of a selfish need to meet my own intentions it has given rise to a unique organisation allowing those in chairs who crave the outdoors to enjoy it. So don’t be fearful of fear…harness its power!

Allie and Max on Latrigg

Take a look at Cox Bank Publishing to read some more wonderfully inspiring stories from disabled people, alongside stories from school children and non-disabled people.

If you want to feature on our Personal Experience Blog contact Kirsty Mulvey at

You’re invited to the Get Doncaster Moving Summit – 28 February 2018

Monday 12 February 2018

Are you a Doncaster club, community organisation, coach or volunteer with an interest in physical activity and sport?

The Summit is a FREE event and is your opportunity to find out about the exciting developments and opportunities to Get Doncaster Moving, and see how you can get involved. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

  • Date: 28 February 2018
  • Time: 5.30pm – 8.30pm
  • Venue: High Speed Rail College, Doncaster

You’ll have the chance to hear from Dr Rupert Suckling (Director of Public Health), Nigel Harrison (Yorkshire Sport Foundation), and Simon Wheatcroft, our local inspirational key note speaker. There will be workshops which you can attend during the course of the evening and a marketplace area for you to meet others with similar interests or to find out about other local initiatives.

Workshops available to attend are:

Communities Approach – Kathryn Mudge, Yorkshire Sport Foundation

Getting Doncaster Cycling & Walking – Clare Henry, Doncaster Public Health & Andy Maddox, Leisure Services Doncaster Council

Data & Insight – Rob Harvey, Doncaster Council

Dance – DARTS (Doncaster Community Arts) – “Find out how dance can have a positive impact on health and be an inclusive and motivating way of encouraging physical activity”

Book your FREE place

To book your place, please send an email with your name, organisation and two workshop choices to Places are limited, please reply by 14th February 2018 so you don’t miss out.

In other news: Doncaster Council have developed Independent Travel Training, an initiative to offer a young person training and support to travel independently between home and school or college.

Leeds Deaf Juniors Football Club

Monday 12 February 2018

Leeds Deaf Juniors Football Club is pleased to invite you to join their session for Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Children

Venue: Thomas Danby Sports Centre, Leeds City College, Roundhay Road, Leeds, LS7 3BG
Facility: Outdoor astro-turf pitch (1/3 of pitch)
Time: 10am-12 noon

A different topic will be covered each session.

Sunday 25 February – Shooting/Goalkeeping
Sunday 18 March – Developing passing
Sunday 22 April – Developing possession play
Sunday 13 May – Attacking/Defending

For more information click the image below or email or text Paul Young at or 07897 484879 (texts only).

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Download the PDF here

In other news: Coaching blind footballers course to be held in Leeds

Empowering Success with Accessibility Mark

Monday 12 February 2018

Seventeen-year-old Angel Dancy-Brock has seen her confidence blossom thanks to an Accessibility Mark riding school.

Angel has a visual impairment that means she only has approximately 25 percent vision in her left eye with no vision at all in her right eye. This causes Angel to feel unsettled and anxious in unfamiliar surroundings.

In addition to her visual impairment Angel also has a multitude of hormone deficiencies, which requires lots of medication, as well as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, meaning she needs constant supervision.

As a result of her complex conditions, Angel struggles with social interaction and can find it difficult to interpret people’s body language or feelings.

Having done a little bit of horse riding in the past with an RDA group, Angel’s mum, Corrisanne wanted to try and find an option that would be better suited to Angel’s needs.

Corrisanne then discovered Radway Riding School based in Warwick, which is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre, and she instantly knew it was a fantastic facility for Angel.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

Angel now enjoys a weekly 45 minute private riding lesson that has seen her riding ability improve tremendously; this has also been matched with an increase in confidence that has enabled her to try other things that she would have previously shied away from.

Angel said:

“I love riding and my instructor is brilliant, really explaining everything so that I understand what she needs me to do. I usually have my lesson on a Monday and I am already starting to get excited on Sunday!”

Riding her favourite horse, Jojo, Angel hopes to improve her riding skills further and would even like to try her hand at stable management.

Corrisanne praised the bond that the staff at Radway Riding School has developed with Angel:

“The staff are really good with Angel, they are friendly and inviting and have a good understanding of how to communicate with her. This is a skill that not everyone has so I have been really pleased and encouraged by this.”

The aim of Accessibility Mark is to work in synergy with RDA groups to provide the most productive strategy for every rider. For Angel, riding at an Accessibility Mark centre offered a more significant level of independence, having never previously ridden off the lead rein.

“Since Angel started riding at Radway, they have instilled a new found confidence in her and she trusts her instructor and the horses. Angel is being empowered to succeed, this is all down to the commitment and hard work put in by her instructor for which I am truly grateful,” added Corrisanne.

There are currently 42 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

In other news: Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people. Take part in our research and receive a £15  Amazon Voucher.

Independent Travel Training in Doncaster

Monday 12 February 2018

Doncaster Council have developed Independent Travel Training, an initiative to offer a young person training and support to travel independently between home and school or college.





What is Independent Travel Training?
Independent Travel Training is a service that can offer a young person training and support if they want to learn how to travel independently between home and school or college. Travelling independently opens up social, educational and employment opportunities.

This service is provided by Doncaster Council at no charge to schools, colleges, parents or carers.

Who is Independent Travel Training for?

The training is for young people living in Doncaster who have a disability and/or learning difficulty and who attend school or college.

The programme is open to young people who meet the eligibility criteria for assisted travel to school/college.

Who can make a referral?

Parents/carers, Schools (Mainstream/Special or specialist units), Colleges, Special Educational Need and Disabilities Officers

 Training can help a Young Person gain:

  • Confidence using buses/trains
  • Road safety skills
  • The skills to travel to their school or college
  • The ability to plan and learn a route
  • The ability to handle money
  • Tips on who to ask for help
  • Personal safety skills
  • A foundation for the future

For more information contact:

Telephone: 01302 737214


In other news: If you are a Personal Health Budget holder and want to share your experiences, register your interest to take part in the survey which opens 1 March

The ‘Good Mood League’ is looking for committee members

Friday 9 February 2018

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the committee for the ‘Good Mood League’.

The ‘Good Mood League’ is a flexible, inclusive, 11 a-side football league for teams with direct links to: NHS foundation trusts, Drug/Alcohol recovery services and homeless charities. The league is currently made up of 6 teams from various clubs and services from across South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The league’s aim is to provide players with the opportunity to compete in football regardless of socio-economic or health status. Inclusive football leagues can provide players with a sense of social status, community acceptance and independence.

They are now looking to recruit a completely independent committee which can support the further development of this league. Attached are the Job descriptions for: League Chairperson, League Secretary, League Treasurer and League Welfare Officer, you can also join the committee as an ambassador.

Please do not be put off if you are not a ‘football person’ as they really want to create a broad committee by engaging people from outside of football to share alternative expertise, specifically around mental health & inclusion.

If you are interested in any of the roles please get in contact with Sam Firth, Football Development Officer (Disability) at or call 0114 2615506 or 07376 109119.

In other news: Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people. Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon voucher.

Project Rugby Sessions

Friday 9 February 2018

Saracens Rugby Club are currently supporting five local rugby clubs in North London and Hertforshire in setting up disABILITY rugby at their club.

The disABILITY Rugby Sessions are for mixed abilities, Aged 16+. It is free to take part with participants and volunteers welcome to attend. The details for the sessions are as follows:

Fullerians RC – Tuesdays 18:30

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Harpenden RFC – Thursdays 18:30-19:30

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Hertford RFC – Wednesdays 17:30-18:30

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Mill Hill RFC – Thursdays 18:30-19:30

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Welwyn RFC – Thursdays 14:00-15:00

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For further information about any of the above sessions please contact Scarlett Cooper-Wall, disABILITY Officer at or call 0203 675 7278 or 07972 934294.

In other news: Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people. Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon voucher.

You are invited to the Sheffield City Council and Within Reach Celebration Event

Friday 9 February 2018

We would like to invite you to an event celebrating the partnership between Within Reach and Sheffield City Council, highlighting the work they have accomplished together over the last 17 Years.

The Charity Organisation Within Reach was established as ‘Our Year Too’ in 1989 just prior to the World Student Games by Mike Elliott.

Their aim is to assist more disabled people to access sport, stay in sport and fulfill their potential in the City of Sheffield.

Event: Sheffield City Council and Within Reach Celebration Event
Date: Tuesday 27 March 2018
Time: Arrive 9.30am  – 10.00am Depart – 2.30pm
Venue: English Institute of Sport Sheffield, Coleridge Road, Sheffield, S9 5DA
Age: All ages welcome
Cost: Free

Most of the coaches delivering are from local clubs, so they can promote their services and allow participants to explore the wealth and variety of sports and exercise available to them. This fun packed day is open to anyone with a disability, along with their families and carers.

The day will include activities such as:

Wheelchair Basketball, Dance, Racerunning, Cricket, Athletics, Football, Bowling, Golf, Boccia, Kurling and many other activities.

To book your place or any enquiries please contact Dawn Wood or a member of the Physical Activity and Sport Team at or call 01142  734266.

We look forward to seeing you there.


In other news: Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham want to find out what you think about how information about physical activity and sport is presented to disabled people. Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon voucher.

Vacancy: British Blind Sport are looking for a Book Keeper and an Office and Membership Administrator

Friday 9 February 2018

British Blind Sport are currently searching for a Book Keeper or Accounts Clerk one day a week and a full time Office and Membership Administrator to join their team

British Blind Sport is a national charity based in Leamington Spa who is committed to assisting blind and partially sighted people access sporting opportunities across the UK.

Full details of how to apply can be found on their website:

Book Keeper and Accounts Clerk

British Blind Sport are seeking an experienced Bookkeeper / Accounts Clerk to join their team based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

The ideal candidate will have relevant experience, good IT knowledge and experience of using Microsoft office package (word/excel/outlook etc), must have experience of using Xero accounts online, be reliable, very organised and have a positive working attitude.  The majority of work includes the smooth running of the charity’s finances however the successful candidate will be expected to provide office administrative support when required.

Closing date for applications: 23 February 2018

Job Type: Part-time

Salary: £12.00 to £13.80 /hour

British Blind Sport Book keeper Job Description

Office and Membership Administrator Job Description

British Blind Sport are looking for an experienced office administrator to join their team.

The successful candidate will take responsibility for the smooth running of our small, dynamic office where your professionalism, initiative and office skills will be welcomed. You will have plenty of room to be creative and we are always open to new ideas.

Closing date for applications:  25 February 2018 at 12pm

Job type: Full-time, 37.5 hours per week

Salary: £18,500-£21,000 p.a.

Please note interviews are likely to take place on Friday 2 March 2018.

British Blind Sport Office and Membership Administrator Job Description

In other news: Take part in our research and receive a £15 Amazon Voucher

Rein & Shine Seeks Sponsorship to Offer Free Equine-Assisted Learning to Autistic Children

Thursday 8 February 2018

A North Wiltshire equestrian centre is seeking sponsorship to be able to hold an event offering free equine-assisted learning for autistic children.

Rein & Shine’s Hoof Club is running the event in support of the National Autistic Society (NAS), with the aim of benefiting the wider community on a not for profit basis.

The centre hopes to fund the event with the help of local companies with any profits being donated to the National Autistic Society.

Rein & Shine is an Accessibility Mark accredited centre, with a well-respected reputation for teaching disabled riders.

Proprietor Jo McDonald

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with commercial riding centres with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

This unique opportunity is offering 80 autistic children in the community a chance to experience the many benefits equine-assisted learning has to offer.

The free sessions will take place at Rein & Shine’s wonderful facility near to Swindon and will last around two-hours. The sessions will consist of 30-minutes of riding and a contact and care session lasting 45-60 minutes to include basic welfare and safety.

This free service is being provided via schools as, amongst other benefits, equine assisted learning is proven to be very therapeutic and educational to those on the spectrum. Whilst supporting the children, Rein & Shine is also hoping to raise funds for National Autistic Society.

Johanna McDonald, who owns and runs Rein & Shine with husband John McDonald said: “Horses can hugely benefit children with autism and we want to give them a chance to experience this help without any associated costs.”

“I have never seen a child with learning difficulties act negatively towards a horse or even the staff on the yard. They seem to become truly engaged and absorbed around the horses and their focus is phenomenal. It helps the children forget the number of challenges they must deal with daily as they become emerged in the equine activity of riding, grooming and care. Those that are nervous around the horses seem to conquer their fear incredible quickly and we see them become more resilient and less anxious. The levels of personal growth, concentration, confidence and even teamwork improves enormously,” continued Johanna.

Rein & Shine are holding an event offering free equine-assisted learning for autistic children

“Horses have been proven effective in creating an emotional healing bond and improving cognitive, language, motor and social skills. For many children, the bond developed with horses can help promote self-awareness in their everyday life which can give them the confidence to learn other skills outside of the equine world.”

A JustGiving page has been set up for anyone that would like to donate: and companies wishing to sponsor should get in touch with Rein and Shine directly.

If you have or know of a child educated in Swindon or North Wiltshire area that may qualify for this activity you should contact their school directly and ask them to get in touch with Rein & Shine: 01666 860068 |

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

There are currently 42 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit