North Wales is more than fortunate to have a very unique system in place between the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health board and Disability Sports Wales, working together as the Health Disability Sport Partnership (HDSP).
The HDSP was first started back in 2013 with the aim to help disabled people become more involved in sport and physical activity, working with professionals, up- skilling and educating, in order to create a more enhanced relationship between the disability sport network and the health board, which has worked and continues to work towards “improving the health and wellbeing of the people of North Wales, through increased levels of physical activity”.
What does this mean for disabled people in North Wales?
Health Professionals at BCUHB are being trained about the ‘Health Disability Sports Partnership’ and can signpost people to the Disability Sport Wales Officer in one of the six local authorities, who then work with the person to find suitable disability sport or physical exercise within their community.
Although the partnership is still relatively new and ever growing, it’s proving to be very effective, with a recorded increase in disabled people participating in physical activities in North Wales of 21% and over 560 disabled people signposted from health professionals to physical activity opportunities.
Sport at any level offers so much more than just the sport, this is the case in both disabled and non-disabled sports. But the impact physical activity can have for a disabled person’s health, wellbeing and lifestyle can be massive, with improved physical health, mental health and self-esteem, better management of conditions and an increase in confidence while socialising and making new friends. Sport or physical activity can also benefit the family of a person introduced and involved.
The Health Disability Sport Partnership works by helping hundreds of disabled people and their families, whilst having a positive impact on their lives, all from becoming involved in physical activity.
At least three of those people; three talented athletes who were identified through the pathway, are now part of the North Wales Knights team and have all played in either the U15s, U19s or U23s Welsh teams.
As the HDSP continues to grow, North Wales Knights and the four regional clubs, look forward to welcoming more disabled people into the world of disability sport and in particular Wheelchair Basketball.