In the UK there are almost 14 million disabled individuals, approximately 22% of the population. Research has found that disabled people aged over 16 are twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people (43% vs 21%) and three times more likely to take part in no physical activity at all (31% vs 10%).

Our own research found that 76% of parents/carers said that their loved one with Down’s syndrome was not very active before they started attending a DSActive session, with the vast majority saying that there were no other suitable provisions in their area aside from the DSActive session.

Physical activity is crucial to the health of people with Down’s syndrome. A University of Cambridge PHD research project found that 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity was hugely beneficial for preventing diabetes and obesity, two  illnesses more common in  people with Down’s syndrome.

Since joining a DSActive session, 27% of participants have lost weight, 68% have improved their fitness, 71% have grown in confidence, 78% have improved their physical ability and 91% have improved their social skills. A review of the DSActive programme also found that taking part in DSActive sessions lead to improvements in: social interactions, team work, understanding others’ needs and non-verbal and verbal communications skills.

DSActive Benefits

It is common knowledge that sport and exercise have many physical benefits. This principle also applies to people with Down’s syndrome, and the DSActive programme has already yielded some astonishing results. Many participants have significantly improved their weight management and fitness, increased their level of coordination and have seen a noticeable increase in ease of movement.

Additionally, DSActive has offered players an opportunity to spend time together in an active environment. By linking with existing local clubs DSActive has also created chances for participants to connect more frequently and freely with their peers at school, leading to a vast majority seeing a great development in their social and emotional development.

Sessions are run by qualified coaches who teach the participants skills, techniques and the rules of the sports in a fun and friendly environment. Many of the sessions focus on team work, co-operation and communication…all very important skills for everyday life.

Benefits for players

 Studies have shown that sport and physical activity can improve levels of physical health and well-being, self-confidence, social awareness and self-esteem.

“The coaches are brill, they’re fantastic; they make me feel proud and lovely when I play football. I really like football so much.” – Player, Charlton Upbeats

“It makes me feel really happy because I love tennis” ­- Player, Swindon Tennis session

Have a go, have a try, all the volunteers are encouraging and welcoming, and will find you a group suited for your ability”Athlete with DS

It gets me out of the house. They’re all encouraging, welcoming. The atmosphere is really great.” – Athlete with DS

Playing sport gives people who have Downs’s syndrome the chance to learn physical skills; it also gives participants the chance to develop their own social and emotional abilities. For many participants, being part of DSActive is the only opportunity they have to partake in sport.

Additional benefits for players from being involved with DSActive:

  • Make friends
  • Learn and improve new techniques
  • Discover new enjoyable activities
  • Play in a fun new environment
  • Experience competition at our national festivals
Benefits for parents

Parents and carers involved in DSActive sessions have the chance to meet others who have had similar experiences.  This enables families to form a tight social group in which they can share advice on topics including school, social activities, and care providers.

DSActive also gives parents the opportunity to see their child playing a sport or being active for the very first time.

He’s not naturally a very sporty type and for the first year he didn’t seem that interested at all, but for the last 2 years it has become a real highlight for him and has really helped his fitness & gross motor skills… and he loves the chance to play in a proper game. It showed me that sometimes you have to be persistent with these things to really see the benefits. – Parent, Ipswich DSActive

“The opportunity to be part of a group that has similar needs…the atmosphere was very friendly and generosity of acceptance was demonstrated when participants are reluctant to join in…Kind consideration and thoughtfulness was shown by all including the participants. It was well organised and delivered to a very high standard” – Parent

“It is vital that DSActive continues. It brings children with Down’s syndrome together and offers an active lifestyle model for their future health and enjoyment.” – Parent

Through the expansion of the programme we are now able to offer national and regional tournaments to players. These events provide parents with the opportunity to see their child take part in a competitive environment with players of a similar ability.

Benefits for coaches

The coaches, volunteers and members of staff involved with DSActive sessions will get a huge amount from taking part. Each will receive a session of Down’s syndrome specific coach education, which covers relevant and up to date knowledge of the condition. The trainng helps to guarantee that best practice is being achieved at each club, ensuring coaching sessions are of the highest standard for participants.

“I feel like I’m a better coach because of it; and hopefully the kids react to that. It is really challenging, but it is really rewarding as well.” – Fulham Badgers Football Coach

“It’s my favourite session of the week.” – Wrexham tennis coach

“Brilliant programme and brilliant to be part of” – Athletics coach

“All of the kids love it, you love it, and it’s just offering something different that other clubs don’t and it’s great to invite people into your club like that” – Liverpool tennis coach

Additional coach benefits from being involved with DSActive:

  • Better understanding of the condition
  • Ability to promote community work in a unique and engaging way
  • Help to improve the mental and physical state of their players
  • Compete at national festivals
  • Improve their communication
  • Perfect different coaching styles
  • Learn new ways of viewing their sport


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