* This post is written by one of our volunteer guest bloggers - it is not sponsored. *
Following the pioneering work by WheelPower’s founder, Sir Ludwig Guttmann in 1940, WheelPower has been providing opportunities for people with disabilities to play sport and lead healthy active lives from the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire. Through the hosting of our annual events, WheelPower was able to engage 62,099 disabled people in sport and physical activity throughout 2019.
Fast forward to 2020 where both the charity and the people we support have been faced new challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, government lockdowns and national shortages. With stadium facilities closing down, events postponed and fundraising challenges such as the London Marathon being cancelled, like so many charities across the UK we expect our annual fundraising to reduce by more than 50% purely because of the virus. However, WheelPower's charitable mission is to transform lives through sport and physical activity, and we weren't going to let the current crisis change this! Therefore, we set in motion plans to create new and exciting digital content that would allow people with disabilities to stay active whilst isolating at home.
Our first Exercise at Home video launched in March 2020, which introduced people with disabilities to Adaptive Yoga. The three online Yoga classes starring Nina Boswell-Brown from Sitting Fit Yoga were a huge success and have since been watched by over 8,500 people on YouTube! We then began offering weekly classes back in May which continued to grow in popularity and eventually became an important part of people’s weekly routines. Because of this, we were excited to announce that our Live Online Classes were extended from 1 to 3 sessions per week starting November 3rd in a bid to support even more people throughout the second UK lockdown.
The sessions are very informal and provide participants with an opportunity to have social interaction with others whilst exercising - something they are all missing due to their vulnerability and new social distancing guidelines. Due to the success of this programme, we intend to continue providing opportunities for the foreseeable future, as it has been wonderful to see how it has enabled participants to maintain their physical and mental health during this unprecedented time.
Our fantastic trio of instructors host different workouts every week, which are perfect for mind and body on these cold winter days. But please note, you must reserve a place to participate by clicking HERE! This week's schedule is as follows:
Tuesday’s at 11am - Cardio with Ben From Adapt To Perform
Wednesday’s at 7pm - Circuits with Ella From Ella’s Wheelchair Workouts
Thursday’s at 11am - Yoga with Nina From Sitting Fit Yoga
Another programme WheelPower launched during lockdown involved gifting FREE Resistance Bands to help people with disabilities stay active in a variety of ways. Much to our amazement, the first 150 sets of bands were snapped up online as soon as we launched the campaign; so we have been working hard to extend the programme and help even more people across the UK to stay active in the coming months.
Ella is one of our Exercise at Home instructors who has become famous for using everyday equipment, such as brooms and baked bean tins throughout her series of circuit exercises.
“At the beginning of lockdown, I was really missing going to the gym several times a week. My mum and sister were taking part in online sessions such as Joe Wickes and I used to look at them and wish there was something like that for disabled people. I did a quick search online, but couldn’t find anything that was inspiring and motivating for me, so I decided to film and edit my own workout videos! When WheelPower contacted me I was really excited about the opportunity to work with them as it meant I could reach a whole new audience, and help transform people’s lives through sport!"
Cameron is 11 years old and has Spastic Quad Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. Online videos have also provided an opportunity for him to keep fit whilst at home in his wheelchair.
“I would usually be more active if I wasn’t in lockdown. But as I am learning from home at the moment we decided to use the WheelPower exercise videos for my P.E lessons. I find these videos help me to move and stretch in ways that I don’t usually get to and it’s aimed at people in wheelchairs like me, so I can take part fully and be part of the whole session.” As he explains further, “It’s great to be taught by someone in a chair just like me and I love that I don’t have to adapt to the session to get the best from it.”