A project developed to support the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of people with disabilities in Scotland has been named as a finalist at the 2020 UK Coaching Awards.
Scottish Disability Sport’s Be Active Be Well programme, designed in conjunction with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), was created to help tackle the unique challenges facing disabled participants, particularly those who had to shield during lockdown.
Now the programme has been chosen as a finalist for the Coaching for an Active Life Award at the UK Coaching Awards, which will take place virtually on 3 December.
For people with a disability, physical activity and sport can be their only connection to social engagement and friendship. The Be Active Be Well programme has supported people to overcome some of these barriers during this challenging time.
A range of physical activity opportunities were available five days a week across the eight-week programme including wheelchair exercise, stretching, yoga and virtual parasports days. Mental wellbeing sessions were offered weekly which included conversations with SAMH and sessions on how to help mindset by taking care with things like sleep and routine.
The programme’s impact has been stark. Wheelchair curler Aileen Neilson, bronze medallist at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, has taken part and said: “They’ve arranged a huge number of sessions for us to go to, it has been absolutely fantastic.
"It has really given people like myself a real lifeline during lockdown, a way to connect to people and help them cope.
“I’ve played a lot of sport and been active but some of the sessions we’ve had have made me stop and think about my mental health and wellbeing.”
Fellow participant Caitlyn Ross added: “It has really helped me mentally and physically; it’s made me realise that I can do stuff at home.”
Gavin Macleod, CEO of Scottish Disability Sport, said: “We have been focused on providing a safe opportunity for people to come together and connect through physical activity sessions and overall wellbeing sessions.
“We’ve had a huge age range which has been great to see, we’ve had young people up to people in their 70s. People have joined us from across Scotland, but we’ve also had some from England, it’s been great to be able to grow our community.”
“SDS is delighted that the BABW has been extended over the winter season to meet demand.”
Stewart, Harris sportscotland chief executive, said: “This is clearly an extremely challenging time for people across the country, but particularly participants with disabilities.
“It is heartening to see this partnership between Scottish Disability Sport and SAMH have such a big impact on the lives of participants and the recognition for the programme is well deserved.”
Robert Nesbitt, SAMH head of physical activity and sport, said: “One of the benefits of the programme is people can engage in different ways, participants can choose to take part in one session or multiple sessions. We’ve got people who have tapped into it when they have felt they needed it, and for others it has become a real lifeline.”