Making Hearts Beat Faster – Guest Blog from Helen Freedman

“Over the last half century we have stopped moving, in our towns, workplaces, schools and cities – and how we get between them. This slow-down in activity has serious consequences to our health and economy; physical inactivity leads to 37,000 deaths per year in the UK more than from murder, suicide and accidents combined.” [1]
The latest document from the All Party Commission “Tackling Physical Inactivity – A Co-ordinated Approach” explores a long-term vision for the integration of physical activity into everybody’s everyday lives. Yet the stark reality is that disabled people are still half as likely to be active as non-disabled people and a recent report identifies that the majority of current sport and physical activity initiatives, aimed at disabled people, are failing to engage audiences effectively. helen

Energize, the County Sports Partnership shares a belief that opening up people’s horizons to the joy of sporting activity enables each and every person to find something that makes their heart beat faster. Therefore our challenge is to work with our local partners to make these opportunities available so that everybody can find something that appeals to them.  However a recent report by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) suggests that the reason for low participation is often because the opportunities and their promotion tend to focus on the audience’s disability or impairment and miss the emotional connection required to attract disabled people. So perhaps we need to start approaching things differently…….

Over the next couple of months I aim to give you a taster of sporting events and opportunities that are taking place in the county, but I also want to hear your ideas and I will try and answer any questions related to sport and physical activity.  

Earlier this year I attended the SDN meeting when Captain Nick Beighton, Ben Rowlings and Tony Lawrence spoke.  I felt incredibly inspired by all of the presentations and Energize are exciting that Nick has helped us out in inspiring young people through the School Games programme and Ben has previously won an Energize award in our Annual Awards ceremony.  However it was Tony, a qualified tai chi instructor who introduced himself as physically ‘at the other end of the spectrum’ that opened my eyes somewhat.  As the County Sports our vision is ‘to enable sport and physical activity to be a part of everybody’s everyday life’ and this needs to be across the whole spectrum.

Community Games[2] is just one example of an activity that focuses on involvement and enjoyment and links with that emotional connection I mentioned previously.  A recent community games event delivered to SEN children focusing on the principles of rugby such as teamwork, respect, discipline and sportsmanship in an enjoyable setting. This was a fantastic event enjoyed by all and demonstrated the role that sport can play in young people’s lives. 

I’ve also learned about an event that is planned in the Quarry to run alongside parkrun.  Grace Hough wrote about Shrewsbury parkrun in a previous ‘Your voice’. It’s been running (excuse the pun) in the Quarry for just over 6 months.  As someone mention last week “I don’t think you would get 300 people in the gym all at 9am on a Saturday morning”.  While parkrun is a fully inclusive event attracting a wide range of participants the Young Health Champions have identified the need to design a shorter course for people who want to do just 3k.  This event will capitalise on the buzz generated by park run, with participants starting at the same time and completing the DART (Disability Accessible Run Time). Hopefully the first event will take place on 19th July – watch this space!

To find out more information  about any of the items included in the article please email

[1]                      All Party Commission on Tackling Physical Inactivity

[2]                      More information on organising a Community Games in Shropshire, Telford or Wrekin can be found on the Energize website. Click here to find out about organising a Community Games


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