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Hundreds are gaining confidence through sport

Sport For Confidence Head Coach Leads A Class In Seated Stretching

Sport for Confidence is a unique and pioneering programme helping those with barriers to participation take part in sport and physical activity. Back in 2019, the council invited Sport for Confidence to hold sessions at Riverside Leisure Centre, to help make sport accessible to everyone in Chelmsford. Now, over 100 people take part every week.

Six sessions are held each week at Riverside. Activities include swimming, basketball, gentle/seated exercise, boccia and a multi-sports session. Sport for Confidence also holds one-off sessions, such as ice-skating and self defence. Whatever the activity, sessions are always focused on having fun and enjoying a positive, social atmosphere.

Sport For Confidence Class Play Boccia, The Winner And Assisstant Coach Are Dancing While Collecting Balls

Sport for Confidence

All Sport for Confidence sessions are delivered by qualified coaches who work with occupational therapists to ensure that activities are suitable for those who otherwise face barriers to physical activity. The sessions are suitable for people who have:

  • learning disabilities
  • mental health issues
  • dementia
  • autism
  • a physical impairment or disability
  • other complex health needs

There are many benefits to being active, and Sport for Confidence works to ensure everyone can reap those benefits.

Making physical activity accessible to all

Councillor Natacha Dudley says it’s important for everyone to have access to the benefits of physical activity:

“It’s well known that playing sports and being active improves both physical and mental health. But taking part in group sessions like this provides huge social benefits too.

The work of Sport for Confidence helps participants develop life-changing social skills, building their self-confidence and leading them to live more fulfilling lives. The physical benefits are huge too, with many participants increasing their mobility and therefore their independence.

It really is a fantastic programme and we’re very proud to have such pioneering work happening at Riverside Leisure Centre.”

Cllr Natacha Dudley, Cabinet Member for an Active Chelmsford
Sport For Confidence Occupational Therapist Watches On As The Class Play Boccia

During the sessions, coaches work alongside an occupational therapist to help participants reach their individual physical, mental, or social goals. Occupational therapist Megan Potts says that these goals vary hugely for each person:

“We offer a wide range of activities because the needs of our participants are so varied.

For those looking to increase their range of movement, low impact sessions like Introduction to Exercise are perfect and can make a huge difference to their physical capabilities. For participants hoping to develop their social interaction skills, our Multi-Sports or Boccia sessions are an effective way to work on building and maintaining relationships.

Whatever your needs, there is something for you – and we’ll work with you individually to adapt the activities to your preferences or capabilities.”

Megan Potts, Occupational Therapist, Sport for Confidence

Upcoming specialist sessions

Alongside the regular timetable, Sport for Confidence holds one-off specialist sessions, often during school holidays. A recent accessible ice-skating session saw 150 participants, parents and carers take to the ice!

The sessions were so popular that they will be returning with extra availability during this October school half term, on Monday 23 and Friday 27 October. Please keep an eye on the website for confirmation of timings.

Ahead of those ice-skating sessions, on Monday 25 September, Essex Self Defence are hosting a two-hour introductory Self Defence class.

This free session is designed for people with a disability or long-term health condition who would like to learn self defence in an inclusive and supportive environment. During the session, participants will learn basic moves and techniques, as instructors educate them on keeping themselves safe.

Participants can also access 1:1 support from Sport for Confidence’s occupational therapist outside of group sessions. 1:1 occupational therapy can lend even more focus to individualised goals, to support you in everyday activities both inside and outside the leisure centre.

Sport for Confidence has positively impacted hundreds of people

The programme has reached hundreds of people from Riverside, and the benefits to their lives are many and varied. A few of Sport for Confidence’s current users told us about the impact the scheme has had on them:

“I can adapt it to what I can do and what I can’t do; last week we did boxing and I did it with one hand, as I can’t use my other hand very well… I look forward to my Fridays, I love it and it does my body good. I can feel it working for me; I can stand a little bit more now [than I could before joining the sessions].”

“It’s made me more confident [and] comfortable.”

“I think the more people with a learning difficulty or disability who know about the sessions, the better!”

“Every Friday [the multisport session] is my favourite thing. I’ve made loads of friends here who I’d never met before.”

To find out more about Sport for Confidence in Chelmsford, please contact Megan Potts (lead occupational therapist) at megan@sportforconfidence.com or call 07394 564942.

You are required to pre-book for each session, this is to ensure sessions are run safely and that all the participants’ needs are met. Sessions are allocated on a first come, first served basis and can be booked with Megan via email or phone. Each session costs £3.50, which can be paid on the day. Please note, the upcoming Self Defence class is free, but still requires advanced booking.

You can visit the Sport for Confidence website to find out more about the programme and its other locations.

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Molly Smith
Molly Smith

Molly writes stories about public health, community safety, leisure, community sport, parking and Chelmsford Market.