Ken Skates, Deputy Sport Minister, and Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, attended a briefing about a unique partnership aimed at improving the lives of disabled people at the Royal Alexandra in Rhyl on 22nd July.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Disability Sport Wales joined forces in December 2013, after gaining a Sport Wales Calls4Action grant to support more disabled people across North Wales to become physically active, and involved in sport. The first year and a half of the partnership has seen over 650 Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Staff up-skilled around disability sport and physical activity and the role they play in promoting well-being to their patients. Over 350 disabled people have been signposted from health services to disability sport/ physical activity opportunities across the North Wales region.
Amongst these are Kieran Jones, a 14 year old who has gone on to be selected for Wales under 15’s wheelchair basketball, and has recently been named as the squad captain. Alex Wilson was also named in the squad, after he was signposted by his Physiotherapist last year and joined Conwy Thunder.
Jimmy Urquhart, a golfer from North Wales who has recently had a stroke, said: “I was devastated. I thought my golf days were over as I couldn’t even sit up. Meeting Mark, Conwy’s Disability Sport Wales Officer, gave me a glimmer of hope and I told everybody about it. Before that I was so despondent that I wouldn’t be able to play golf again that I gave away my putter… Golf has given me my life back.”
During the briefing the Ministers were joined by people benefitting from the partnership and were able to hear first-hand how involvement in sport was allowing the participants to lead a more healthy and sociable life.
Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“As Minister with responsibility for equality, I am pleased Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Disability Sport Wales are helping to remove the barriers which, unfortunately, so often stop disabled people participating in sport. This project is not only helping participants improve their fitness and strength levels, it is also helping them build their confidence and have fun! I wish the project well as it goes from strength to strength.”
Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture and Sport, said:
“We are committed to creating opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy participating in sport, regardless of their background and situation, with the aim of getting our communities more physically active and healthier. Sport brings so many benefits, from improving health to building confidence and improving self-esteem. Unfortunately, research shows that some groups, including disabled people, are less likely to take part in sport and I am keen to see this change. This project is a great example of how this can be achieved and make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
Sport Wales Chief Executive, Sarah Powell commented:
“This partnership is a brilliant example of how sport and health can work together to improve people’s lives. 18 months in and we are starting to see real life examples of individuals leading much more active, healthy and sociable lifestyles. The partnership is providing great opportunities and changing the lives of people who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to benefit from sport. This is a brilliant example of how National Lottery money can make a real difference to groups of people.”
Health and sport professionals are now working closely together to double the number of disabled people who are physically active in North Wales by the end of 2016.The partnership will continue to work to improve the lives of more disabled people. Follow the partnership on twitter @health_dsw #somethingforeverybody Andrew Jones, Executive Director for Public Health at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said, “Tackling inequalities is a core part of our work to improve the lives of our North Wales population, and the Disability Sport Partnership is an excellent example of how empowering individuals, changing perceptions and removing existing barriers can create circumstances and environments where people are able to participate in their chosen sport regardless of disability.”
To find out more about the partnership visit www.wales.nhs.uk/dsw, or call Catherine Chin on 07557312526.
You can find a club near you by visiting www.disabilitysportwales.com