Sports Buddies is a new project started in July 2021, that pairs up people with and without learning disabilities to be friends and do some regular sport or exercise together.
If you have a learning disability or would like to volunteer as a buddy to a person with a learning disability; are based in Sussex and would like to get out and move more, be it sports or exercise, join Sports Buddies!
What is Sports Buddies?
Sports Buddies is very similar to Gig Buddies. The idea is to match volunteers with people with a learning disability and/or autism who like the same exercise or sport. The Sports Buddies will meet regularly to be active, hone new skills and have fun together. We will also hold regular ‘active socials’ and a community Table Tennis network.
Why Sports Buddies?
Gig Buddies and Sports Buddies enable adults with learning disabilities to make decisions about how they want to live their lives.
During lockdown many people experienced more isolation and were less active, impacting physical and mental health. A survey of Gig Buddies participants showed 87% felt they’d been less physically active since lockdown and 61% hadn’t done any regular exercise since being at school.
The reasons were
- People didn’t know where to start,
- most felt anxious about not being able to do a sport and
- not being able to get to the clubs or activities.
Most people were keen to have a Sports Buddy to help them back to physical activity.
From here we put together a proposal for Sports Buddies and Active Sussex & (Sports England?) agreed to fund our new project.
How does Sports Buddies work?
- The Sports Buddies Coordinator will match new volunteers drawn from our sports networks with participants
- The coordinator meets the participant and volunteer to find out what sports or exercise they like to do and ask what kind of Sports Buddy they prefer
- We then make a make a match between the two and introduce them to each other, so they can make a plan to meet regularly to get active and have fun
- We will provide specialist volunteer training to support volunteers to deliver accessible physical activity sessions for their buddy
- The aim is for the Sports Buddies to meet for 1 hour a week in person (or on Zoom if we are in lockdown) to practice their shared activity. This can be flexible, e.g. meeting for 2 hours every fortnight
- We will roll-out Sports Buddies to rural areas in East and West Sussex. The Sports Buddies Coordinator will build links with small local clubs to attract volunteers
- We will hold regular localised ‘Active Socials’, open to all Sports Buddy pairs to attend together to try new activities and have fun.
What kind of physical activities could we do?
Here are some ideas of things we thought our Sports Buddies may want to do. But really you can try any sport or exercise you both agree to.
- Nature walks
- Park walk/ runs
- Walking football
- Table Tennis
- Martial Arts
Monthly Sports Buddy Active Socials may include:
- Dance parties in local out-door spaces
- Table Tennis drop in sessions
- Kick Rounders
- Walking football games
- Walking mini-marathons
For people who are shielding and/or want to become fitter we are offering Fitness Gold Sessions:
- A weekly 1 hour zoom session of Fitness Gold delivered by Brighton Table Tennis Club
- A gentle exercise, led by a specialist, that can be done at home for all levels of ability.
- It is a gentle easy way into exercise. The sessions help build confidence and easy steps into physical activity in the home environment.