Perth Eagles Wheelchair Sports Club
A story by Perth and Kinross Disability Sports
We set up a Wheelchair Sports Club in Perth called ‘ Perth Eagles’ to give local people with a disability the opportunity to participate in meaningful active sport & physical activity with their peers and siblings.
This was provided at Letham Sports Hub & numbers have been full to capacity every week.
What Perth Eagles Wheelchair Sports Club did
Our wheelchair sports club enables people with a disability to participate in meaningful sport and physical activity through 2 x 1 hour weekly sessions in wheelchair multi-sports and Boccia. These activities take place on Thursday (Boccia) and Friday (wheelchair sports) evenings. We worked very closely with multiple partner organisations such as Active Schools, Live Active Leisure, NHS physio and occupational therapists along with many more disability service providers to identify those who would benefit from our club.
We set up the club from scratch using the knowledge and experience of other Wheelchair sports clubs , local authority leisure trusts and specialist people with the required skills to guide us.
We wanted to ensure our club was accessible for all and we firmly believe 'cost' is a barrier to participation. Research shows that people living in poverty or from low income families are far less likely to take part in weekly sport sessions due to a number of factors including cost of sportswear, equipment, travel etc. With this in mind we do not charge any membership or weekly fees to ensure everyone is welcome and can access our club.
We used the funding to buy 10 sports wheelchairs, along with sports equipment, coach education training and venue hire. We recruited 8 volunteer committee members to support the operational running of the club including key roles such as chairperson, treasurer, secretary and child & vulnerable adult protection officer. We supported this by ensuring all relevant policy and procedures were in place prior to the club starting.
We also recruited 2 volunteer Boccia & 2 wheelchair sports coaches to run our sessions. We repay their goodwill by ensuring their training and child protection qualifications are paid for and up to date. We have seen more and more parents/carers leave their child as the weeks go on to get some respite and siblings are also encouraged to participate leaving parents/carers to get some much needed free time.
Our club also acts as an outreach opportunity for parents and carers to meet up and discuss common challenges or simply enjoy a chat over a tea or coffee.
What Perth and Kinross Disability Sports has learned
We learned that using our links with local disability service and support organisations to target the right families and individuals that will benefit from attending our club is invaluable. Partnership working has always been important and even more so when targeting people who are inactive and getting them active on a weekly basis.
We learned how to set up a disability sports club from scratch and the multiple components that goes with this. This project planning has been an extremely positive experience and will be invaluable when advising other clubs to take an inclusive approach to sport and physical activity.
We have met so many new people with a disability and their families and they are now engaged in what we do, not just with this club but with other participation opportunities, competition and event pathways and disability education training.
How Perth and Kinross Disability Sports has benefitted from the funding
Our organisation has greatly benefited from The Short Breaks Fund Better Breaks programme funding with the creation of our wheelchair and Boccia club. This opportunity simply didn't exist before in our local area with people having to travel to Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow to take part. This club will be a profound legacy from the funding and will flourish for years to come. We have significantly raised awareness of local opportunities to participate in wheelchair sports such as basketball, badminton and rugby as well as other sports sessions and clubs. The amount of people with a disability accessing weekly sessions and our local competitions/events have also significantly increased meaning we know more people are going from inactive to active in sport. This has also been of great personal development for myself as I have gained knowledge and experience setting up a new club, engaging with new people and building lasting relationships
We will set up a wheelchair sports and Boccia club in Perth to include activities for all that are fun, stimulating and rewarding for all. The club will offer parents, carers and members an community of support and friendship along with a opportunity to improve health and well-being through sport.
The club has been running since September 2018 and 20 young people with a disability and their siblings have joined us and really enjoyed this opportunity. We did this by creating a club constitution, policies and codes of conduct etc. We have recruited a committee of eight people to look after the club and have used the money given by Better Breaks to purchase specific sports wheelchairs, pay for venue hire, coach education and essential equipment. The wheelchair club meets every Friday night for 1 hour and this has been a huge success meaning we are full to capacity every week. To ensure the needs of those unable to move a manual wheelchair were met, we created a second 1 hour weekly session of Boccia on a Thursday evening which is suitable for all ages and abilities.
'Before the club started, I didn't really enjoy sports or many activities. The club has given me confidence to play as part of a team as well as finding a sport I enjoy. This is getting me out the house and is good for my physio programme. The club has helped me develop skills in a sports chair which has led me to being selected to play in the Jr. NBA Wheelchair basketball league. I am really enjoying the social aspect of the club as well as the physical side.
Parents/carers of children and young people with a disability will be able to get 1 or 2 hours of free time per week as their child attends our sports sessions.
We have seen more and more parents/carers leave their child as the weeks go on to get some respite and siblings are also encouraged to participate leaving parents/carers to get some much needed free time on their own.
' It's good to know I'm leaving my daughter in a fun and safe environment. I use this time to go to the supermarket to do the weekly shopping. When I shop with daughter, I always feel rushed to get it done quickly and now I can take my time and feels far more relaxed. I sometimes just go for a walk or cup of coffee'
We hope to give young people more opportunities to improve their health and well-being, learn new skills, get fitter, lose weight and make new friends to gain confidence and create pathways into mainstream activities and leisure activities.
We have seen an enormous difference in every single child and young person since we started the club in September. Their chair skills, fitness and ability have all benefited from our sessions. One of the social aspects of our club is that we start each session with a question such as 'favourite movie' or 'favourite pet' Each participant then has to find out the answer from everyone else before the end of session when we review it. This really gets everyone talking to each other. We have seen everyone's social skills grow each week. This has helped them in other aspects of their lives giving them more confidence at school and other social situations, leading to healthier, happier lives. We are always developing sporting opportunities for people with a disability and some of the children are starting to cross over into other sports such as swimming to further improve their well-being.
'My son's skills with manoeuvring the sports chair and skills have grown and grown, he is now helping the younger ones to include them in the activities and is more talkative to everyone at the club. He likes talking to others about the club and I have seen his confidence grow'
To give opportunities to young people with a disability to improve their health and well-being that don't exist in our local area and respite/outreach opportunities for carers and parents.
We achieved this by setting up a brand new wheelchair sports club, the first one ever in Perth & Kinross to give opportunities for local young people with a disability to participate in meaningful physically active sport. This has been delivered at no cost to the families and people attending allowing more people to access the club.
'Families with disabled children face enormous challenges. Pressures are considerable and varied, but include fatigue, strain on relationships, limitations on mobility and consequent feelings of isolation. Over and above these emotional strains, families with disabled children face real financial challenges. We really wanted to make a difference to these families and offering our sessions at 'no cost ' has been very well received by all. Knowing that they do not have additional costs to participate in our weekly sessions, especially when two or more siblings are involved, means their income can spent in other ways and breaks down the cost barrier to coming along week after week.