First Steps West Midlands 2015

At British Blind Sport, we are helping children with sight loss get active with a sport and fitness pack delivered to their door.

The problem

Obesity and inactivity are two major challenges facing the world. 1 in 3 children in the UK are obese or overweight. With only 21% of boys and 16% of girls meeting the government’s guidelines of 60 minutes activity each day, the problem will continue to grow, unless we intervene.

Many visually impaired children struggle with physical activity due to poor inclusive PE teaching and bullying at mainstream schools. Physical activity decreases during major life transitions, such as the move to secondary education. It is therefore vital that we provide children in this age group with positive activity options.

With over 25,000 visually impaired children in the UK, there will be a large number who are at risk of obesity and inactivity. We are uniquely placed in the disability and sporting sectors to solve this problem.

Our solution

First Steps is our contribution to this battle against obesity and inactivity. We aim for the pack to contribute to the globally recommended 60 minutes of activity per day and give the children confidence to join a local, accessible sports club.

Designed for children aged 7 to 12 years old, the pack includes everything a family needs to lead a more active life:

  • Audible ball: A bright and bouncy ball with ball-bearings inside to allow the child to hear the ball.
  • Activity booklet: Simple and enjoyable games that encourage the entire family to play together.
  • Local clubs booklet: A set of engaging and accessible sports clubs that are passionate about inclusive activity.
  • Progress poster: Tracking the child’s daily achievements to encourage habitual activity.

What’s next?

We are sending out our First Steps activity packs to over 50 children across the Midlands in the coming weeks. This has been made possible by the generous support of our funders. BBC Children in Need are funding our rural pilot study, while our Birmingham and Coventry study has been funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. Additional funding by the Midcounties Co-operative Community Fund and the Edward Cadbury Trust has helped us develop our First Steps activity packs.

We will work with the families who take part in the study to understand how they use the pack and whether it can achieve the project’s aims. The data and feedback gathered from the pilot will help us improve the First Steps pack for a potential, larger roll-out across the country.

If you know a visually impaired child who could benefit from a First Steps activity pack, please register your interest.