Lockdown was hard for many people, but for adolescents and adolescents living with a disability, it was especially tricky.
To help overcome this Tees Valley Sport, through funding from Sport England created practical ‘Bags of Fun’ activity packs to help engage this hard to reach group in physical activity.
Within the Tees Valley, two local authorities fall in the top 20 of districts where neighbourhoods are in the most deprived 10 per cent of communities nationally on the IMD 2019.
Adolescents were identified as most in need, and the packs provided equipment and practical ideas to encourage them to do more physical activity and increase morale.
Tees Valley Sport worked on the project in partnership with communities that support young people and those with a disability, and this included Active Partnerships, School Games Organisers, local youth charities, Voluntary Community Sector (VCS) organisations and councillors.
Insight from ‘Sentiment’, an artificial intelligence technology platform, was used to analyse online conversations to create themes of discussion. It was also able to identify that there was a lack of support around physical activity for these groups.
An online Zoom forum spoke with adolescents to collate their ideas on what the activity packs should include. Teachers and staff that support disability provision within schools provided their insights into the most suitable equipment for those with a disability, and this information helped co-design the packs.
Councillors, VCS leads and Active Partnership helped distribute 1,000 activity packs to families homes across Tees Valley’s five boroughs. The response to receiving the packs was excellent and many families keen to talk about how appreciative they were.
“These packs will create a tiny bit of positivity. We know that our families have suffered nothing but bad news since COVID-19”.
“These packs will be great for our young people. To have a disability element to them is really refreshing as we always feel that inclusive sport is left out”.
“These packs allow us to reach out to our families again and give us another reason to see them. It creates another contact point so that we can see how they are getting on and ask about how they are keeping physically well”.
The project has been hailed a success due to Tees Valley Sport’s ability to identify who would benefit most from receiving them, excellent partner communication and access to social media intelligence.
The need to deliver the packs into the local community provided another opportunity to contact and engage with families who may otherwise slip through the gap and not be aware of other support that is available.
The project is also being evaluated to determine whether it can continue alongside the local ‘Exercise on Referral’ offer across South Tees, to support people who were participating in the scheme but have been unable to attend leisure services or are isolating at home due to the pandemic.
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