Manchester multi-sport taster event success
Over 60 blind and partially sighted people attended our hugely successful Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council’s (SLC) multi-sport taster event on 19 August.
We launched the event to coincide with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Blind Games taking place across Birmingham from 18-27 August, and the launch of Thomas Pocklington Trust and SLCs Accessibility and Disability Support across the Leisure and Fitness sector report.
Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council hosted the event to help other blind and partially sighted (BPS) people to get more active. This includes people who had never tried a sport before, or wanted to try something new. Just small changes to sports and how sessions are delivered can have a huge impact on participation levels, enabling people to take part.
Adapted and inclusive sports
At the event, as featured on BBC North West, 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.
We 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.
A group of blind and partially sighted attendees are practising baseball techniques outside
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 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
Emily, pictured outside on a tricycle
“The event was brilliant. We met new people, tried new things and made new friends who are 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
“I really enjoyed today. This type of event is great for anyone wanting to learn a knew sport to then maybe go into competition. Here, they can be guided into it. It can also help people who want to get involved in sport more for the social aspect.” – Ruth
“Coaching was very good, especially baseball. It felt very safe to play and how they are adapted is now much better than with other sports I’ve tried. For example, the sound of the ball is more audible and the use of speakers helps with direction when running to a stop. Excellent work and techniques by all the coaches; they made it really simple for everyone.” – Mohammed
Michael, during the VI Tennis session
“This event has been really great, and the staff and volunteers wonderful. I’ve also found a new activity to do – baseball. I never thought I would be able to play but it was absolutely amazing. It was also really fun to run freely without the fear of falling with no sight.
“It is great how the sports are adapted to be inclusive, such as the sounds you run towards. These adaptations give you the same essence of a game that sighted people experience, but in a way that is adapted for blind and partially sighted people to be better for us and inclusive” – Marie
“I really enjoyed it. I met some new people and the activities were fun. I really enjoyed baseball and cycling.” – Bailey
We would like to thank all our amazing volunteers, sighted guides, sports leaders and event organisers for making this event happen. We’d also like to thank our guide runners Nigel, Jacinta, Hayley, Andrew and Rachel, we couldn’t do this without you.
If you would like to visit the websites of any organisations who delivered on the day, to learn more about what they do, please visit their websites using the links below:
- Lancashire Lions (cricket and goalball)
- UK Blind Baseball
- Active Tameside (curling and adapted cycling)
- Gavin Forsyth Golf Foundation
- Guide running
- England Netball
Yorkshire and Humberside Let’s Get Active
Our Yorkshire and Humberside Let’s Get Active event for blind and partially sighted people is taking place in York on Friday 3 November. This event will be hosted by North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council.
Their event is open to all blind and partially sighted people living in the Yorkshire and Humberside area. Do you want to try a new sport?
And, for anyone who may be nervous about coming for the first time, Manchester participant, Ruth, shares this message:
“For anyone who has never been to an event of this type, don’t worry. You will always be supported even more than you need.”
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Publication date: 11 September 2023