British Blind Sport has been making a real difference amongst the blind and partially sighted community for over 40 years now. We are passionate about supporting blind and partially sighted children and adults to be more active and play sport.
Our primary goal has always been to get more visually impaired people physically active. Countless research has evidenced how sport enhances the quality of life for everybody; but the benefits to those who live with impairments and the accompanying challenges such as social exclusion, mental health concerns, lower employment and income potential, are even more pronounced.
The importance of sport and physical activity to those with sight loss goes further than it just being a way to keep fit and healthy. It is a way to meet new people, make friends, gain confidence, have fun, get outside the house, be surprised by what they achieve, overcome problems or doubts and take pride in themselves.
Whilst British Blind Sport are proud to count Paralympians such as Noel Thatcher, Libby Clegg and Ben Quilter amongst our members and patrons of our charity, our focus is very much on grassroots sports and ‘everyday’ people. That is why we are delighted to be one of English Federation of Disability Sport’s key partners in the “Together We Will” campaign to help disabled people to become healthier, stronger and have fun being active.
We have five sports sections – ten pin, shooting, archery, football and cricket – and organise an annual Visually Impaired Youth Football Tournament and Youth Swimming Gala. This year, almost 100 children participated in these, and the feedback we received from those involved was glowing; I can’t put it better than a parent who was there on the day: “James absolutely loved the event. It was fantastic to see so many children enjoying themselves in a lovely event which has encouraged and spurred James on to want to swim more and more.
In 2015, to celebrate British Blind Sport’s 40th anniversary, we developed and hosted an inaugural Festival of Sport. This was a huge taster day where visually impaired children and adults could try a range of sports including swimming, goalball, athletics, cricket, cycling, sailing, to name just a few. The day provided an excellent opportunity to try new sports, learn new skills, and have fun in a supportive and encouraging environment and as it was such a roaring success we are doing it all again this year!
This year’s event takes place on 22 October 2016 in Coventry and will be even bigger and better, with the addition of activities such as rock climbing, zumba, equestrian and yoga. If you are, or know someone who is, blind or partially sighted please come along and get involved.
Another important area for British Blind Sport is to increase the sporting opportunities for the visually impaired community through collaborative and partnership working with third party sports providers, national governing bodies of sport and national disability sports organisations. In the last year this has enabled us to deliver archery, shooting, guide running and equestrian sessions throughout the country, and put in place a sustainable model so that people can stay involved with their chosen sport in the long term.
The Rio Paralympics will really put disability sport in the spotlight. Across the world we will watch the phenomenal ability of athletes that refuse to let physical or sensory impairments be a barrier to participation, achievement and success. It raises awareness amongst the general population that sport is universally accessible and inclusive.
From Rio to Runcorn , British Blind Sport wants to enable and empower more blind and partially sighted people into sport so that they can become more physically active. We see first-hand the positive impact that it brings. Campaign’s such as Together We Will and #TryYourKitOn are great in helping us spread the message and reach people who have yet to feel the power of sport, touch their lives.
If you are visually impaired and wanting to be more active I’d love you to get in touch with our team to find out how we can help you. Please call 01926 424247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.