Thanks to Wirral Autistic Society’s (WAS) comprehensive day services programme, each week hundreds of adults with autism from across Wirral take part in sports including horse riding, rock climbing, swimming lessons and keep fit in the gym.
Now, a grant of £187,896 made by Sports England’s Inclusive Fund to the society means that seventy adults every week will be able to take part in AutismAbillity – a new trampolining and gymnastics scheme.
WAS is one of 44 organisations across England which has benefited from £8.06 million of National Lottery investment from Sport England to open up more opportunities for disabled people to play sport.
The WAS funding has been used to recruit an activity leader and two coaches, develop disability coaching and purchase new equipment including six trampolines. Ten lessons a week will take place at The Drill sports centre on Grange Road West in Birkenhead.
Community Development Activity Manager, Neil Murphy, said: “This funding means a great deal to us and to our service users. After all our planning, we’re thrilled that we are finally launching AutismAbility. Both our new sports are great fun and we want our service users to love their sessions but we’ll also be encouraging them to work towards British Gymnastics Proficiency Awards, which will be a good way to boost their self esteem.”
The number of disabled people playing sport regularly is on the rise. In December 2013, Sport England’s Active People Survey – an annual, in-depth measure of the nation’s sporting habits – revealed that a record number of disabled people in England now play sport each week. However, non-disabled people are still twice as likely to play sport as disabled people (39.2 per cent compared to 18.5 per cent).
Sport England Director of Insight, Lisa O’Keefe, said: “We are delighted to be able to help Wirral Autistic Society provide more opportunities for disabled people to give sport a go. Record numbers of disabled people now play sport and it’s thanks to projects like this that we can continue to improve opportunities and make a real difference in communities.”
Robin Bush, Chief Executive of WAS, said, “Its brilliant that we can now add such comprehensive trampolining and gymnastics offers to our repertoire. Having fun, keeping fit and feeling motivated by an activity can make a huge difference to someone’s quality of life.”
Wirral Autistic Society was founded in 1968 and employs 800 people in Wirral and Merseyside. The society supports 300 plus people with autism and social communication difficulties. It offers specialist services for families and children, residential care, respite care and supported living, along with a very broad range of day services. www.wirral.autistic.org