Sense Sport

Sense Sport aims to increase the range of physical activities available to disabled people with complex communication needs.

Sport and physical activity play a key role in keeping people fit and healthy, supporting social inclusion, and building confidence through learning new skills and making friends. At Sense, we believe everyone, no matter how complex their communication needs, deserves the right to enjoy a physically active life.

Our flagship project called 'Sporting Sense', works with a number of partners to offer a wide range of sport and physical activity sessions, aimed at people with complex communication needs, and their friends and family, and carers.

To date, we have offered yoga, cycling, climbing, swimming, football, tennis and dance. We encourage people to try new activities, meet new people, and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of being physically active.

We are always looking to establish new partnerships in order to expand our offer and reach, and we are passionate about breaking down barriers to participation through inclusive and accessible opportunities for everyone.

One of the greatest strengths of our 'Sporting Sense’ project is facilitating journeys like Matthew’s. Matthew is deafblind and has a learning disability. He had attended over 15 accessible climbing sessions, always putting on the equipment on, but never climbing the wall. However, at his next visit Matthew stood up, was guided towards the wall and climbed right to the top. We were fortunate to capture this moment on camera and are proud of the impact the project is making everyday in the lives of Sense users.

Alissa Ayling, Sense National Sports Manager
A smiling woman assists a young woman in throwing a ball in a sports hall.
A man pedals on an adapted bike. Seated in front of the man in an adapted wheelchair, is a man. They are on a race track.

Our work

‘Sporting Sense’: our flagship project

We are proud to be in partnership with Sport England on the national ‘Sporting Sense’ project which is creating and developing opportunities for disabled people with complex communication needs to participate in, and enjoy, a broad range of sporting and physical activities.

This flagship project helps us to achieve three key goals:

  • Increase demand for these kinds of activities throughout our community of people with complex communications needs
  • Increase the range of activities on offer, partly by working with, encouraging and advising national sporting governing bodies, major sporting organisations and local authorities
  • Developing our insight into the delivery, promotion and engagement of these activities. Through working with research partners like University of East Anglia, we want to become the leading experts in the delivery of physical activities to people with complex communications needs.

We will hold a major sporting summit in London in early 2018 to share key findings of the ‘Sporting Sense’ project, further details and special guests to be announced!

I love that the sessions are inclusive and people have lots of different abilities, we have blind people and deaf people and people who need more support and that’s lovely.

Tesfai, ‘Sporting Sense’ Participant

Focus on our successful Midlands Sport and Activities Programme

For over fifteen years, individuals with complex communication needs in the Midlands have been accessing a comprehensive sport and activities programme.

These regular, long-standing sessions offer the opportunity to take part in a diverse range of activities, including rambling, climbing, ice Skating and wheelyboat (a pedal-powered boat fully accessible for wheelchair users).

Some individuals also attend an annual adventure holiday with the Deafblind International Outdoor Network. Sense hosted the inaugural trip in 2016 at the Exmoor based accessible outdoor activity centre, The Calvert Trust. The 2017 trip was hosted in Denmark and saw the group go deep sea fishing, ramble through forests and travel on horse-drawn carriages through the woodlands.

The reaction of those we were supporting as they sat around the fires smelling the feast being prepared, was a joy to behold

Sense volunteer
A woman wearing climbing equipment, holds the hands of man wearing a climbing helmet. Behind them is a climbing wall.
A man and woman wearing climbing helmets, sitting together. The woman is communicating with the man. Their hands are touching. The woman is smiling.

Leading the way: training and awareness

We want to increase the number of sport and physical activity opportunities available to people with complex communication needs and we've identified that one key way of doing this is to influence how the sport sector supports disabled people at their venues and sessions.

In order to achieve this aim, we have created a pioneering training course, ‘Connecting Differently Through Sport’ which increases awareness, teaches specialist skills and builds confidence for people either delivering sport or supporting disabled people to access sport.

The course is relevant for a wide range of individuals ranging from sports coaches and administrators, to volunteers and carers, and we work with partners to deliver this course with a focus around their specific sports and activities.

For more information on the course, or to book a bespoke course for your organisation, please get in touch.

Really enjoyed the course, helped my understanding and made me think how I can both support and facilitate sports for the children in my care.

Disability Play Leader

Get in touch

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