On the Move
For young people living with physical and learning disabilities, the access to physical activities they have whilst at school may be their main opportunity to be active.
The network of day centres that they can join after they leave school present a terrific opportunity to offer physical activities, but many centres are unaware or unable to offer appropriate and accessible activities for young disabled people.
We recognised the risk that this drop in activity levels created for young disabled people, both to their physical and mental health, and for the fun, skill development, and opportunities to socialise that activity provides.
In 2018 we secured Sport England Core Market funding to deliver On the Move, a 4-year disability project which helps young disabled people that are leaving education and entering adult life to have a greater number of quality opportunities to be active.
On the Move aims to increase young adults’ access to quality, accessible activities by developing and embedding sport and physical activity within the county’s day centres. The primary objectives of the programme are:
- To develop and embed sport and physical activity within day care centres, giving young disabled adults in Norfolk the opportunity to sustain a regular active habit.
- To make sport and physical activity part of the transition decision making process that influences young disabled people and their families
- To develop an evidence base of what makes an effective intervention for disabled people through some innovative evaluation techniques
Quote from day centre staff:
“It has allowed us to step back and take part and be shown some new ideas and approaches. It is really easy to settle into a familiar routine and do the same exercises. This has been refreshing.”
On the Move takes sport and physical activities to a range of day care providers across Norfolk and embeds regular physical activity within the service provision.
We identify and work with the day centres to arrange for 10-week blocks of physical activity to be delivered by a local activity provider, Exercising People in Communities (EPIC).
We conduct an audit of each centre to understand the suitability for different activities, and work with the centres to choose suitable physical activities and sports to offer in their centres.
Staff upskilling and development to deliver the sporting activities after the 10-week delivery period is key to the project’s sustainability, as well as supplying the centres with the equipment needed to keep delivering the activities that residents have been enjoying.
Additionally, we work closely with the DRAGONs (Disability Real Action Group of Norfolk), who are a group of young people with disabilities. They visit clubs and leisure centres across the county to find out how easy they are for people with disabilities to use so that we can develop a picture of what services and facilities are available for disabled people, which can be accessed through an interactive map on our website.
With this information, we hope to make the centres and facilities that promote accessible activities more visible to disabled people and their families, so that they are more aware of the choices open to them.
By providing accessible sporting activities as part of their core services, this becomes a promotional tool for day centres and can influence young people’s decision making when it comes to choosing which centre they join.
Over 200 young adult participants from 23 day centres in Norfolk were participating in the programme up until March 2020 when face-to-face delivery stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic. We quickly repurposed the delivery funding to transition to virtual sessions for the duration of the first lockdown, which were provided by EPIC Norfolk. The On the Move at Home playlist consists of 17 videos and includes sporting skills and obstacle courses, as well as coordination and concentration games.
Staff and carers report the greatest impact has been the increase in participants’ physical activity levels, as well as enjoyment and increased social interactions during their sessions. They feel it gives their customers more opportunities to try something new, increase their self-esteem, and learn about the benefits of being healthy.
Day centre staff have reported a change in their own perspective on customers, being surprised by how much customers can, and want, to try new activities.
Staff members have also all reported that they enjoy the increased opportunities to socialise with customers and they have learned new ways to motivate customers as a result of their involvement in the project.
Day centre staff comments:
“It helps us understand what kind of activity each member can do and like, and what each member is capable of!”
What’s next for On the Move?
The delivery aspect of the project remains on hold during the social restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic. But the project has evolved to take in outdoor facilities, with On the Move Outdoors.
The DRAGONs have been busy auditing parks, walking routes, and trails across the country for their accessibility, which have been translated into easy-to-read reviews for disabled people and their carers to identify suitable locations to be active together outdoors.
To find out more or get your group, centre, club or organisation involved please contact Ellen Vanlint.
Disability & Inclusion Development Officer
Ellen has been working with local disability organisations across Norfolk since 2010 to increase the quality and amount of physical activity opportunities for disabled people and their families and carers.