Fitpros invited to free workshops to learn how best to include people with sight loss in physical activity sessions

Fitness professionals are being invited to a free online workshop to gain practical guidance on how to successfully engage people with sight loss into their physical activity sessions.  There is a choice of two 90-minute workshops taking place on Saturday, October 23rd at 2 pm or Friday, October 29th at 1 pm. The workshops will be delivered by Step Change Studios. The award-winning dance company is committed to making dance accessible for everyone. Supporting the workshops will be one of the company’s visually impaired students, who will be sharing her lived experience. 

These sessions directly respond to research that Step Change Studios undertook among 128 fitpros as part of their Dance Dosti programme in partnership with Metro Blind Sport. Their answers revealed a clear lack of inclusive training and very low confidence in supporting people with sight loss in their physical activities. The research also showed a desire among fitpros to upskill in order to be able to work with this demographic and an acceptance that it is currently not well catered for within the leisure sector.

Key findings from the research showed:

  • Just 12.5% of fitpros felt ‘very confident’ teaching someone with sight loss
  • 77.3% cited their lack of specialist training in supporting people with sight loss as a barrier to them being fully inclusive
  • 72% said hearing from someone with sight loss would be most helpful to them in supporting people with sight loss 

Furthermore:

  • 73.4% rate the dance/fitness sector as ‘poor’ in terms of access and inclusion of people with sight loss
  • The top three factors that fitpros believe are barriers for people with sight loss to take part in physical activity are:
    • Accessibility of venue and equipment – 85.9%
    • Finding information about opportunities – 85.2%
    • Low confidence in the activity provider – 80.5%

The Dance Dosti workshops aim to break down these barriers and build up skills and confidence in fitpros by providing practical guidance and exercises. 

Very real need

In the UK, almost 2 million people are living with sight loss, and every day 250 people begin to lose their sight. (1). Activity Alliance (January 2021 – (2) found that disabled people felt that they did not have the opportunity to be as active as they wanted to, compared to non-disabled people (29% vs 44%). 

Respondents said the lack of activity had made their physical and mental health harder to manage, while feelings of loneliness and social isolation were frequently voiced. These findings tally with research from Blind Ambition that shows people with sight loss are reported to have several associated conditions, including depression, anxiety, and diabetes (3).  

It is widely known that physical activity can help to improve all three of these conditions, but, as the Activity Alliance states, disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive compared with non-disabled people.  

“I have seen first-hand the physical, mental and social transformation among disabled people when they’re introduced to physical activity,” says Rashmi Becker MBE, Founder of Step Change Studios. “The aim of our workshops is to encourage fitpros to reflect on their current practice and to improve insight, skills and confidence to support people with sight loss in their sessions.”

The Dance Dosti programme was launched earlier this year to support people with sight loss to be active. It is especially focused on participants from a South Asian background. Central to this programme is understanding the views and experience of fitpros in supporting people with sight loss and enabling better practice. Dance Dosti is supported by Vision Foundation. 

HOW TO SIGN UP

To register for one of the workshops, visit LINK

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