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  • The motivational power of the Paralympics

    Wheel Chair Sports

    Whilst we can't all be paralympians, just as most able-bodied people can't compete in the Olympics, we can all be inspired by the courage, tenacity and talent of those who represent us in these sporting fields.

    A survey by the Leonard Cheshire charity found that 46% of disabled people interviewed said they were more liable to get involved with exercise or sport as a result of watching the Paralympic Games. From this same group, one third of the respondents had never previously taken part in any sports, but 36% of them now felt inspired to become more active.

    There are over 10 million people living in the UK with disabilities both seen and unseen, and the Paralympics are bringing about a change in attitudes, both within the disabled community and with the public at large. Making sport and exercise more accessible is a key change that is well underway. This applies to facilities and also to equipment. Employers are encouraged to train their staff to deal with disabled customers and their requirements, and this sort of training is readily available via e-learning. Many gyms and sports clubs already work with local authorities to accept GP referrals, and often they offer lower rates if you are on a low income or benefits.

    Getting out and about as a disabled person is good for morale, and a chance to meet new people and be sociable. Even ten minutes of moderate exercise can help maintain health. It's not all about physical strength either. A little activity is stress-busting, aids sleep, and can improve agility, co-ordination and reaction times. The boost to self-confidence is also therapeutic.

    Rugby, football and table tennis are all sports that have versions for the disabled, while most local pools have accessibility and sometimes some physiotherapy sessions. Even a short walk is a huge challenge for many, but a chance to get out in the fresh air is always beneficial. The Nationwide Disabled Access register has a list of accessible nature reserves.