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- 29 July 2016 00:00
- in Education
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Sport for confidence is a pioneering initiative, which sees an Occupational Therapist based in a leisure centre to support people with learning disabilities to participate in mainstream sporting activities.
It is currently operating out of three Everyone Active leisure centres in Essex, and delivers a weekly programme of activity sessions for people with and without learning disabilities, providing progression from specialist sessions to mainstream sports and clubs.
This unique partnership between healthcare professionals, leisure centres and local sports clubs sees Occupational Therapists (OT) working directly with sports coaches and staff, to make adjustments that create truly accessible sport & leisure opportunities.
Participants gain skills that are transferable into daily life, increasing confidence, social opportunities and improving overall health and wellbeing. This in turn reduces reliance and pressure on additional support services. This jointly commissioned service also provides a mainstream relaxed environment to assess and monitor individuals.
Case Study: Sarah
Sarah has Downs Syndrome and was the victim of a serious sexual assault from a stranger, leaving her vulnerable to exploitation (physical, sexual, financial) from others within community based social situations. Sarah struggled to behave appropriately in social situations and form relationships.
Alongside counseling, Sarah was referred to OT to gain support around social skills, establishing new relationships and personal safety awareness. Sarah was accompanied by an OT to the multi-sports group where it was possible to complete an assessment of her social communication and interaction skills in both group and 1:1 sporting activities.
The group provided weekly opportunities for Sarah to practice the new skills she was learning whilst also receiving positive reinforcement from the coach and other group members. This allowed OT to present the ‘social rules’ for behaviour using visual prompts and role play. Progression through the Sport for Confidence groups encouraged Sarah to transfer her skills in to new situations and the sporting activities are selected to consist of concrete steps and repetition for learning.
Sarah has progressed to attend several other sessions within the programme and participates in Trampolining, Boccia and cricket groups. She has been to college and now attends a day service once a week, and works as a volunteer at a local swimming pool.