OVER 60 blind and partially sighted people from North West England attended a multi-sport taster event designed by and for blind and partially sighted people in Manchester on 19 August, to coincide with the World Blind Games.
Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council (SLC), funded by national sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust, designed and delivered the Manchester-based taster event. SLCs are regional groups led by blind and partially sighted people who work with organisations to ensure what they do is accessible and inclusive, with access to sport being a Greater Manchester SLC priority.
Greater Manchester SLC volunteer members hosted the event to help other blind and partially sighted (BPS) people get more active. This includes people who have never tried a sport before or want to try something new. Just small changes to sports and how sessions are delivered can increase accessibility and have a huge impact on participation levels, enabling people to take part.
They also launched the event to coincide with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Blind Games (18-27 August), and the launch of Thomas Pocklington Trust and SLCs’ Accessibility and Disability Support across the Leisure and Fitness sector report.
Adapted and inclusive sports
At the event, BPS participants learnt from qualified sports coaches and leaders and could try out a range of sports. These sports included visually impaired (VI) tennis, cricket, tandem cycling, goalball, baseball, golf, running, yoga, Pilates and massage. There were also some curling sessions.
They delivered the sessions with simple changes to make them accessible and inclusive. For example, in tennis, there are different bounce rules and the ball makes a sound as it goes through the air so people can hear it. In baseball, a sound is made which gets quicker as the runner approaches the stop. For running, a sighted guide runs alongside the blind or partially sighted runner and they use a shared tether.
Kelly Barton, Sight Loss Council Engagement Manager and VI runner, said:
“We were delighted that so many people attended our Let’s Get Active day. It was lovely to see people trying sport for the first time or finding a new sport to try and getting so much enjoyment out of it. Our hope now is that people will continue with some of the sports that they tried out on the day. Our event also demonstrates how just small changes can make sports accessible for blind and partially sighted people to enjoy.”
Feedback from participants on the day was extremely positive:
“This event will help build people’s confidence, give you a challenge and a chance to achieve something you thought you couldn’t do.” – Michael
“I used to do sports before I became visually impaired. From this event, I’ve tried new VI sports and have found a place I can go cycling after the event, which is fantastic.” – Sharon
“I enjoyed taking part in the activities and am grateful my mum pushed me to do it. There are not any places where we live which do this kind of activity.” – Emily
“The event was brilliant. We met new people, tried new things and made new friends who were in the same boat. Thank you, event organisers. This was so well organised too. We really appreciate it and all the hard work you put in. Thank you and bless you.” – Victoria
The next Let’s Get Active event for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people is taking place in York on Friday 3 November for BPS people living in Yorkshire and Humberside. This event will be hosted by North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council.