Paralympians launch campaign to encourage more blind and partially sighted people to get active

Paralympics GB gold medal winners Chris Skelley and Libby Clegg on Tuesday 28 September 2021 launched See Sport Differently, a campaign to encourage the UK’s two million blind and partially sighted people to get more physically active.

See Sport Differently, a three-year campaign run by RNIB in partnership with British Blind Sport, aims to tackle lower levels of wellbeing amongst blind and partially sighted people by highlighting the benefits of physical activity, and demonstrating to blind and partially sighted people and the sports industry alike that sight loss doesn’t need to be a barrier to participation.

New research behind the campaign, shows that blind and partially sighted people are being put off from sport and exercise and are twice as likely to be completely inactive as other people.

More than half of blind and partially sighted people (53 per cent) do less than 30 minutes of physical activity each week, falling far short of the NHS recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise. This figure is almost double the national average (27%).

The research found that although eight in 10 blind and partially sighted people agree on the importance of regular physical activity, almost half (48%) said that their visual impairment prevented them from being more active and a similar number, 53 per cent, said they didn’t have the right opportunities. A third (33 per cent) said there were fitness activities that they would like to try but haven’t been able to, including swimming, cycling, going to the gym, playing tennis and horse riding.

See Sport Differently will address this by creating and promoting local opportunities to get more physically active and experience truly inclusive sport via the main campaign hub at: www.rnib.org.uk/see-sport-differently.

Libby Clegg and Chris Skelley are backing the campaign to get more people with sight loss to get involved in physical activity.

Paralympic sprinter Libby Clegg said “Sport has played a massive part in my life and I’m backing the See Sport Differently campaign to get more people with sight loss, whatever their age, into sport and finding places to engage in physical activity locally. Hopefully the recent Paralympics has whetted the appetite of blind and partially sighted sports lovers, and we will see increased participation in the future.”

Paralympic judoka Chris Skelley said: “Blind and partially sighted people who want to get into sport often find it difficult to find opportunities. Sport has played a huge role in my life to date, and I’ve been fortunate to compete at two Paralympic Games so far. I’m backing the See Sport Differently campaign to get more people with sight loss into sport. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends and increase confidence levels.”

David Clarke, RNIB Director of Services and former Paralympics GB footballer said: “I understand like most blind and partially sighted people how beneficial it is to stay fit and active, but for many of us having sight loss makes it difficult to actually get involved in physical sport.

“It doesn’t have to be that way and through the See Sport Differently campaign we want to show people that there are local activities to get involved in and we are also looking forward to working with the sports industry to help create more accessible and inclusive sporting opportunities.”

Alaina MacGregor, Chief Executive of British Blind Sport, said  “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with RNIB on the See Sport Differently project. In light of the pandemic, and the impact it has had on everyone’s mental and physical well being, there has never been a more crucial time to support blind and partially sighted people to get more active.”

“Together we want to encourage adults and children to get involved, whatever their ability. Whether a complete novice or a seasoned athlete, we want to ensure there is something for everyone.”

RNIB and British Blind Sport have received £1m in funding from Sport England to deliver the See Sport Differently initiative. Thanks to the players of the National Lottery, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.

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