The Sparkle Coach: Disabilities striding over roadblocks

From This Girl Can to Park Run there have been lots of proactive initiatives and campaigns to make sports and fitness more accessible.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:30 pm
The Sparkle Coach.
The Sparkle Coach.

Teams, grassroots organisations, and nationwide initiatives have helped transform access to exercise and even healthy eating for many but how do we combat the other hurdles faced by a variety of disadvantaged groups?

Whilst I am a huge advocate for women with #ThisGirlCan and I know families on low-income who have changed habits thanks to free Park Run communities.

Whilst we are off the starting blocks, there are still hurdles we need to overcome from making spectator sports, stadiums, and support genuinely open to all.

Budding sports reporter at YorkshireFamilies.co.uk and football fanatic ‘Digitally Active Dan’, who keeps himself active at a variety of local specialist groups for adults with learning disabilities, loves nothing more to boost his mood than attending football and rugby grounds to watch his favourite teams play.

Yet, a lot of the grounds and ticketing processes whilst implementing more disabled-friendly features could be doing more to welcome everyone.

Dan, who started writing about some of these issues as a volunteer accessibility reporter for Yorkshire Families Magazine, which spurred him on to all write his own sports reports blog in Lockdown, writes:

"As a man with a learning disability, I enjoy going to watch Leeds United and Featherstone Rovers, but there are some issues that I face which are:

"Waiting for an hour to get through to the Leeds United ticket office to buy tickets

"Getting a ticket in a place in a stand I didn’t particularly want e.g. Disabled area or all standing area

"Whereas Featherstone Rovers grounds and ticket facilities are fairly accessible and so is The Crucible where I love watching snooker!"

But sadly, Dan’s weekly sports schedule suddenly stopped during the pandemic, which was “strange and confusing” for him and he hopes that when he returns to Elland Road they will begin to introduce set times for people with disabilities and carers to book tickets, enter the matches and ensure that they are sat where they want to before ordering the tickets.

He said: “I’d also recommend that clubs have learning disability liaison officers around the stadiums who they can go to if they have a problem.”

Dan, who is part of the Digitally Active project which creates content for Yorkshire Families, empowering and training volunteers with digital skills, added that whilst his favourite rugby club is normally the easiest to access, Covid19 has obviously created more issues for spectators with special needs to attend sporting events.

He said: “A recent issue I had for the first Featherstone Rovers match when they allowed fans back in, is I wanted to go but I hadn’t had my second jab at that point and there were certain restrictions which meant I probably wouldn’t have been able to sit next to the person I went with, which would have felt nerve-wracking for me, especially when I attend public sporting events.

“I like and need the familiarity of sitting next to people I know.”

My brother who is also on the Autistic Spectrum who can find team sports overwhelming discovered his love of fitness when he reluctantly took part in Wakefield Hospice 10k with me a few years ago. He likes to properly prepare for any activity, working out the exact timings, bus routes, and every detail of his day. Whereas my dyspraxic dyslexically diagnosed brain prefers not to plan too much and go with the flow.

No one size fits all in life, sport, or tapping into a love of movement! Together, finally in synergy as we started the wonderful race, set off, and before I knew it my brother was like a Gazelle! I thought I would have to support him throughout the race but he just ran and started lapping me as I enjoyed the atmosphere, route, and people exercising together all for a great cause.

Since then my brother has gained the confidence to attend ParkRuns near his supported accommodation, something he has greatly missed and felt isolated without his running group in person during this period.

Whilst I understand these are extremely challenging times for clubs, teams and, everyone, I hope that we can now appreciate the value of kicking off with a fresh start and whilst we navigate the complex guidelines, that some of the bigger clubs especially can be reminded and considerate of making their grounds and points of access more considerate for those with additional needs.

As we know, sport is nothing without all of its fans... and more than ever we need to all come together as a community and cheer on our team!

You can follow Yorkshire Families @yorkshirefams at https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk and Dan's sports blog, can be found here: https://yorkshirefamilies.co.uk/2021/06/08/euro-2020-summer-extravaganza-of-football/

You can follow me at @mamameiblog @thesparklecoach https://mamamei.co.uk and https://thesparklecoach.com or join for free bit.ly/squatsandsparkles

WEEKLY MOTIVATION: Whether you need to get your brain or body working out more or both - each week I set you some simple, quick yet powerful Mind and Body workouts to do at home!

Mind Challenge

Create your own ritual to shake off fears and anxieties...

Try your own ritual from moving or hypnotic breathing or talking whatever works for you to do when you feel the anxiety building.

A lot of people live in a state of fear and adrenaline but remember when warriors used to return home from actual war/ places of unsafety they would be cared for by the community and return home to a ritual but we can create our own internal ritual so we don’t carry the feelings of fear.

Life Hack

Mental Rehearsal gets our brain and body not just ready but it trains it with such a powerful impact that we experience it like the physical thing.

Holistic health is true wealth! Yes, focus on your living environment to create space in your external world… but let’s not forget your internal world too with mental rehearsals and meditation practices.

DID YOU KNOW?

The difference between Wellness and Well-being?

Wellness = A condition obtained when a person achieves a level of health that minimizes the chances of becoming ill. Wellness is achieved by a combination of emotional, environmental, mental, physical, social, and spiritual health.

Wellbeing = The state of being or doing well in life; happy, healthy, or prosperous condition; moral or physical welfare (of a person or community).

Oxford Dictionary’s definitions.

Workout 1:

Full body workout

1.) Bulgarian split squat x10 (each leg)

2.) Decline press ups x5-10

3.) Boat hold x20-30 seconds

Repeat 3-4 sets , Rest 60-90 seconds between each round.

Workout 2:

Full body workout

1.) Jump squats x 10

2.) Press up shoulder taps x10

3.) Hamstring walkouts x5-10

Repeat as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes.