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Disability Fitness Programme Hailed as an Overwhelming Success by Participants

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Participants have praised the ‘encouraging and friendly atmosphere’ of an innovative University of Worcester project designed to assist people with disabilities in improving their fitness and activity levels.

‘Push2Health’, devised by Dr Andrea Faull, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, and Haydn Jarrett, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science, launched in January, with the aim of allowing disabled people – both University students and members of the public - to benefit from University facilities and expertise to build their fitness and confidence levels.

The initiative, which is also serving as a research project, has seen participants take part in gym sessions and adapted circuit training as well as try out a variety of different sports.

Hannah Brockbank, a student at the University, says: “At school, I never really had any encouragement when it came to sport and PE – I was always at the back and never really felt cared about.

“Push to Health is really good, as it provides that encouragement. I’ve been to every session and a can see a definite improvement; my health is better, I’m not in as much pain and it’s helped me to clear my mind.

“The sessions here have also inspired me to take up wheelchair basketball, and I now play every weekend.”

Another participant, Chenelle McFarlane-Duncan, adds: “I came along because I like to keep fit, and the sessions have given me the encouragement and the comfort of knowing that there are other disabled people in the same situation.

“It’s a friendly atmosphere and I’ve noticed a big improvement in my fitness.”

Dr Faull, who is also Course Leader for Sports Coaching Science with Disability Sport and represents the University on committees associated with the English Federation of Disability Sport.

She says: “It’s been very pleasing to see so many people show such enthusiasm for the sessions; and the feedback we have received from them has been excellent.

“The fact that we have been supported and been able to make use of the exceptional facilities on offer at the University has been very encouraging and shows the positive impact the University can have on both students and community members.”

The pilot project will end in the middle of April, but Dr Faull has already begun to look at ways of building on the initiative given the overwhelmingly positive feedback received by participants.

She continues: “This is very encouraging and an extension to the programme is something I am strongly considering.

“Ultimately, this pilot programme was to see whether there would be any interest in setting up physical activity opportunities for individuals with a physical impairment, but the uptake, enthusiasm and interest has been so overwhelming that I am looking at ways to sustain such positive involvement.

Anyone interested in taking part in the next programme should email Dr Andrea Faull at a.faull@worc.ac.uk or telephone 01905 855265.