This year, Learning Disability Week (17 to 23 June) is all about sport and inclusion.
What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability can affect someone’s intellectual ability and can cause difficulty with everyday activities – for example, household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.
Although a learning disability may mean someone needs extra support and time when developing new skills, understanding information and interacting with people, it is important to remember with the right support, most people with a learning disability in the UK can lead independent lives.
Sport and Inclusion
Participation in sport and physical activity is exceptionally low for people with a learning disability – with Sport England’s Active Lives data showing that 43.1% of adults with learning disabilities are inactive compared to the national average of 25.2%.
This is something that we need to change – we need to make sport more inclusive. Sport England and Mencap are launching the Round the World Challenge which hopes to inspire and assist people with a learning disability to get active in a way that is flexible, fun and empowering.
If we were to ask any sport participants what they loved most about their involvement, they would be sure to mention the connection and friendships they forge with their teammates. So imagine how being part of a group and the sense of belonging has on your mental and emotional health! This is something that those with Learning disabilities should be a part of as well.
Thoughts of Suicide
People with a learning disability are more likely to experience poor mental health than the general population.
We hear from many young people with learning disabilities who contact HOPELINE247 because they are feeling suicidal. This is often due to a combination of many factors. When difficult life events arise, they may feel vulnerable and unable to cope.
The Role of Sport
Sport can have a really important role in people’s wellbeing – that’s why we need to make sport more inclusive. Not only will a person benefit from being physically active, being part of something will help with their mental health and emotional health.
Sport has many benefits for us, including benefits to our health, body, and mind:
(1) Mental health – Leisure activities bring improvements in your mental health, motivational state, and moods.
(2) Physical health – Outdoor leisure activities improves your physical fitness and health.
(3) Personal social skills – Leisure activities provide opportunities for building and maintaining friendships, enjoying and having fun, while at the same time also developing your communication and social skills.
(4) Self-worth and confidence – Leisure activities bring improvements in a person’s self-worth and confidence and also bring about an overall sense of fulfilment and achievement.
(5) Social attitudes – Social attitudes towards learning disability can be improved through community-based and inclusive leisure activities.
So why not get involved this week? There are loads of events up and down the UK that you can get involved with whether you have a Learning Disability or not. Just get involved with some sport – you may surprise yourself and meet some new friends.
Activity Alliance is a charity working to make active lives possible with a vision that disabled people are active for life: http://www.activityalliance.org.uk/about-us