Physical activity is important for both our mental and physical health, no matter our age or ability. We recently caught up with Shape the Play as they ran a special National Fitness Day STEPs Into Football session at Thornaby Pavilion, to find out more about the benefits users see from the activities Shape the Play run in Stockton and Thornaby.
Shape the Play works across central Stockton and Thornaby with a focus of reducing some of the health inequalities in the area, by using football as an engagement tool to get those people in our community who do not traditionally tend to engage in physical activity, engaged in football. Delivered in partnership with Stockton Borough Council’s STEPS and Sporting-STEPs schemes, North Riding County Football Association’s Shape the Play project and charitable leisure trust Tees Active, STEPs Into Football provides the opportunity for people with a wide range of additional needs to independently take part in fun, football themed physical activities.
Shape the Play Manager James Hadman explained “we use football in creative ways to get participants moving and add more physical activity to their lives in a relaxed and friendly environment. Today’s National Fitness Day themed session involves movements that our participants wouldn’t usually do and using a football to do so, bicep curls and toe taps for example. Usually Shape the Play sessions offer more multi-sports activities with a general football theme, but this group were interested in participating in more football focussed activities so we decided that today’s session would be solely football focused, where participants can have a little more fun and whack the ball about with a match at the end!”
STEPs Into Football sessions consist of participants with a variety of learning disabilities, some of whom live alone or with family and others who live in specialised supported housing. Stephen, who lives in specialised supported housing in Norton, told us he really enjoys taking part each week and the independence he has garnered when doing so. Shape the Play sessions, like the one for National Fitness Day, provide people with additional needs with the fantastic opportunity to take part in activities independently from their family or carers, make friends and have fun. With independence being something that many of them unfortunately do not experience on a regular basis.