Yorkshire and Humberside Let’s Get Active multi-sport taster event success
Over 35 blind and partially sighted people attended our fully booked multi-sport taster event created by and for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people in York on 3 November.
North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council organised our Let’s Get Active multi-sport event for BPS people living in Yorkshire and Humberside. The aim was to raise awareness of accessible sports and leisure activities available locally, and help people to get more active. It also aimed to improve physical and mental wellbeing of local BPS residents through sport and leisure.
In Yorkshire and Humberside, it is estimated that there are 187,000 people currently living with sight loss and 38,000 people registered blind or partially sighted. This figure is growing.
Designed by and for visually impaired people
Our event was delivered by visually impaired sports coaches and leaders, including visually impaired (VI) England National VI Tennis Ladies’ B4 Singles Tennis Champion Lydia Wrightson.
Accessible sports included VI goalball, martial arts, climbing wall, gym with personal trainer, cricket, tennis, tandem cycling, golf, Pilates, yoga and Tai-Chi.
“I now play for Yorkshire”
Oliver, aged 19, came to our Let’s Get Active event in Yorkshire and Humberside for the second time, and attended last year. He explained the impact attending this event last year had made on his life:
“I had never even played VI cricket until last year when I came to this event and played cricket for the first time. I now play for Yorkshire. It’s great for getting active and meeting new people too.”
Oliver also spoke about how sports can be made accessible for everyone. He said:
“If you feel vision is in the way, don’t think about it and you can do it. By taking part, you will also learn about other new sports and opportunities too.”
Oliver poised on the ground waiting to catch the ball during the Goalball session
Darren, who also plays cricket, took part in a session on the climbing wall and climbed to right to the top, alongside many other participants.
“It’s a real sense of achievement with something I have never done before and I see it as a real positive.
“These events give BPS people a chance to try new things. It’s great for physical and mental health, and for people to make new friends. I encourage anyone to bite the bullet and give it a go.”
Jack, a climbing wall participant who also climbed to the top, added:
“That was exhilarating. I feel really proud of doing something I didn’t think I would be able to do.”
Eleanor Tew, Trustee at MySight York, starting her climb.
Feedback from VI sports coaches and leaders
We welcomed many sports and leisure organisations to our multi-sport taster event to raise awareness of what they do with Yorkshire and Humberside BPS residents. Many organisations ran sessions and/or held stalls providing people with local information.
Chris Ashbury, Head Coach at Durham VI Cricket, who helped run a session and is VI, said:
“Multi-sports taster events like today give everyone a change to try a new VI sport they’ve not done before and then, if they enjoy it, continue to get involved. VI cricket also gets people out and about, meeting new people instead of being at home, and has a positive impact on our health and wellbeing.”
Durham VI Cricket team coaches. From left to right: Chris Ashburn, Darren Cook, Emma Gilfoyle, and Jack Moffat.
Stuart Hutcheson, British Blind Open Golf Champion for England and Wales, plays with England & Wales Blind Golf. They held a stall and VI golf taster session.
“Our sport is for all ages and abilities, and everyone is like a big family. Our handicaps range from 11 to 64. I encourage everyone to give it a try. If people get as much from a sport as I have done, then that is just priceless.”
Stuart Hutcheson, British Blind Open Golf champion, and Irish Open champion, holding his trophy
Tandem bike rides were also on offer. Paul Stark, Trustee at Tandem Trekkers, was at their stall talking about what it involves.
“On a tandem, you don’t even need to be able to ride a bike. It’s for all ages and abilities. You have a pilot who does the steering and balance for you. I encourage everyone to get involved and give it a try.”
Tandem Trekkers Chair, Stephen Darycott, added:
“Tandem Trekkers is about much more than the physical aspect too. You will make new friends, increase your social interactions, and get the opportunity to come to our events. We are a little community. VI sports are like that, and they all make a massive difference to our physical and mental health too.
Senior Engagement Manager, Iain Mitchell, taking part in the tandem cycling session
At the end of the day, further sessions were held with yoga, Pilates, Goalball and more.
Kathryn Fielding, Goalball UK, said:
“VI sports are not in any way less competitive and fun. The key word is adaptation, and they are fair for everyone. They are also great for meeting new people, and benefit our physical and mental health too. I encourage everyone to come give Goalball a try.”
Our Let’s Get Active attendees during the Goalball session
Participants during the yoga class
Several stalls shared information about accessible leisure clubs and activities across the region. These include photography, mindfulness, book clubs, computer clubs and climbing.
Jackie, a North Yorkshire SLC member who is a registered mindfulness teacher and practitioner, spoke to people about mindfulness. She said:
“These taster events are great for raising awareness of sports and leisure activities available locally. They also demonstrate the adaptations in place for everyone, to help break down barriers and demonstrate how they can get involved.
“Mindfulness is accessible for everyone, and everyone can do it as little or as much as they like. It also improves our wellbeing. I encourage everyone to try it.”
Anna, also a North Yorkshire SLC member, ran a stall promoting a range of activities including Pilates, Tai Chi, a local Macular Society group, IT course, a book club and more. She added:
“All of our activities and sports open up new possibilities for people of all ages, and help everyone to meet new people they don’t normally connect with too.”
Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for Yorkshire and Humberside said.
“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who attended our multi-sport taster event last week. These events take a lot of planning and involve a lot of people working together sharing their skills and experience. We owe a great deal of gratitude to them all.
“A special thanks to MySight York who provided the sighted guides, and promoted the event through their newsletter. They were also a fantastic support on the day.
“It was wonderful to see the number of VI coaches and guides that gave their time for free, we thank and applaud you all. You provided an opportunity for a lot of BPS people to participate in activities they would not usually get the chance to try.
“The legacy of this event is that more people will now have the confidence to take up a sport, or pursue a leisure interest, and feel more engaged in their local community.”
Staff and volunteers from SLCs and Thomas Pocklington Trust who supported the event
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:
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Publication date: 10 November 2023