People living with a disability or long-term health condition in Essex will be able to continue to maintain an active lifestyle, thanks to the continued delivery of the Sport For Confidence physical activity programme at Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre.
Since its introduction at the centre in 2019, the programme has gained significant momentum. Each week, the programme offers an array of activities from swimming and dance to football and multisports, encouraging those who struggle to access mainstream activities to move more, make friends and develop new skills.
Led by occupational therapists and supported by sports coaches, the programme is designed to accommodate the needs of all participants while supporting individual health, social and physical goals.
Speaking of the programme, Rob Walker, Sport For Confidence Clinical Lead, said: “Recently, Sport England’s Active Lives Survey revealed, people living with a disability and/or long-term health condition are half as likely to be active as the rest of the population. This is largely due to accessibility and adaptability issues.
“The programme at Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre removes barriers and fosters a safe, welcoming and fully inclusive environment where everyone can flourish. For many participants, these sessions are their first ever positive experience of organised sport and physical activity they have encountered. Our aim is to encourage a long-term active lifestyle and help participants recognise the positive effect movement can have on their health, happiness and general wellbeing.
“Skills learnt in the sessions such as the development of self-confidence, making and maintaining personal connections, communication, environmental awareness and punctuality, and can also be transferred beyond the field of play and into everyday life.”
It is estimated that, each month, Sport For Confidence delivers more than 300 interventions at Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre – and the number of participants is growing month on month. Initially the programme was funded through a National Lottery grant but will become part of the integral service provision of Everyone Active, the specialist leisure management company commissioned by The London Borough of Havering to manage the centre.
Karen Heilbrunn from Everyone Active’s Havering team, said: “It has been fantastic to see this programme develop over the last 3 to 4 years.
“Many of the people engaged with the programme have never visited the leisure centre before and now they are regulars. Through this programme we are changing behaviours and moving more people towards the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity every week deemed necessary to sustain good health.
“Our ambition moving forwards is to continue to work with Sport For Confidence to grow the programme in line with demand. This will ensure everyone has equal access to quality leisure facilities and services and the many benefits an active lifestyle delivers.”