It is common knowledge that sport and exercise has many physical benefits. This principle also applies to individuals 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 seen a noticeable ease of movement.
Additionally, DSActive has offered players an opportunity to spend time together in an active environment. The associations with existing local clubs has also created chances for participants to connect more frequently and freely with their peers at school. The vast majority of participants have also seen great development in their social and emotional development.
Sessions are run by qualified coaches who teach the participants skill, techniques and rules of 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
Playing sport gives people who have Downs’s syndrome the chance to learn physical skills; it also gives participants the chance to simultaneously increase their own social and emotional abilities. For many participants, being part of DSActive is the only opportunity they have to partake in sport.
Additional player benefits 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/carers who are involved, find themselves in the company of other parents who have 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 provides parents with the opportunity to see their child take part in sport that they may not have originally shown interest in.
“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
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
Coaches, volunteers and other members of staff involved with DSActive sessions will receive many benefits. They will all take part in Down’s syndrome specific coach education, which covers relevant and up to date knowledge of the condition. This helps to guarantee that best practice is being achieved at each club, ensuring coaching sessions are kept to a high 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
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
- Improvements in communication