“Never give up”, says Anna Pettican, Senior Occupational Therapist and Projects Manager at pioneering Basildon organisation Sport for Confidence, when asked for advice to share across the Essex Local Delivery Pilot.
“Working in new ways and overcoming barriers and challenges that restrict participation in sport and physical activity can be exhausting, but the outcomes can be life-changing.”
The nationally-acclaimed organisation fuses local health and sport sectors to tackle inequalities in sport and physical activity participation. They achieve this by placing health professionals in leisure centres directly alongside sports coaches and leisure centre staff to make adjustments that create truly accessible and inclusive sport and physical activity opportunities.
Formed in 2015, hundreds of participants and their family carers attend their sessions every week. Physical activities include boccia, trampolining, swimming and tennis.
“We provide inclusive sport opportunities, which can be defined as disabled people participating and competing in sport with non-disabled people,” says Anna.
“They’re broad and synergistic. As well as increased physical activity levels, participants also report improved mental wellbeing and a sense of belonging.”
The organisation received the Inclusion and Disability title at ukactive’s inaugural awards ceremony for embodying an inclusive mindset and demonstrating a blueprint which supports people from varying backgrounds.
Anna said: “We work with the people that use our organisation, listening to their voices and challenges they encounter.”
She said the Pilot will allow the organisation to broaden and evaluate their work.
She added: “We hope it will provide us with a sense of how we can develop; what is working well that we need to continue, and where we need to make changes and move in new directions.
“We are also looking forward to collaborating with other organisations, such as Sport England and the University of Essex.”