The Covid-19 Lockdown measures presented many challenges for those wanting to access physical activity, particularly where sports clubs and leisure centres were still not open for most over the summer holidays. This was particularly true for the families of children with learning and/or physical disabilities.
After talks with Aiming High and recognising that a large number of supported families had significantly reduced opportunities to stay active over the summer, the Summer Activity Packs were created to help fill the gap.
Funding of this project was provided by Swindon Borough Council Community Health and Wellbeing Team, Wiltshire and Swindon Sport and Swindon Sports Forum in order to ensure that this initiative was completely free for families to use.
Once we had received funding, we created a Webform on Podio for families to apply through and an equipment list where families could pick a maximum of 5 items to go into their box. Equipment included lots of adaptive pieces and sensory equipment not commonly found in shops for children with learning and/or physical disabilities to enjoy. This information was sent out through Aiming High’s mailing list and our contacts at the SEN schools; families had to note on the form where they had received the information from.
As the orders started coming in, we began purchasing the equipment online and boxing up all the equipment for our families to receive. In total, we packed up 70 boxes of sports equipment for families across Swindon, as well as activity booklets that were created and kindly edited by Access Sport, these booklets included lots of fun games and activities that could be done with the equipment in the boxes, or with household items.
We were interested to see the impact the summer activity packs had made on the physical activity levels of the families and children who received one. We emailed a survey out to all the families who received a pack, and got back 37 responses. This information is based on NHS Physical Activity Guidelines for children and young people (2019).
We first asked the following question:
Prior to receiving the Summer Activity Pack, in a typical week, on how many days did your child do a total of 60 minutes or more of sport or physical activity for recreation (enjoyment)? This may include sport, exercise, walking or cycling for example.
The results showed that on average, respondents were doing a total of 60 minutes or more of sport or physical activity for 2.3 days per week.
We then asked a follow up question:
After receiving the Summer Activity Pack, in a typical week, on how many days did your child do a total of 60 minutes or more of sport or physical activity for recreation (enjoyment)? This may include sport, exercise, walking or cycling for example.
The results showed that on average, respondents were doing a total of 60 minutes or more of sport or physical activity for 3.9 days per week, an increase of 1.6 days per week.
Not only were the statistical results encouraging, we also collected subjective feedback, which clearly demonstrated the need at the time to provide the initiative for families of children with disabilities:
"It was a pleasure to receive this during a time that caused great stress. My son was keen to play with the toys and it not only helped him to be a bit more active, but also lifted his spirits. Thank you."
"The summer activity pack gave us different opportunities to play and exercise. The children were getting so bored at home and the pack arrived at just the right time. We got creative with the hoops and balls and made fun games indoors as well as outdoors. We appreciate the pack very much, thank you."
"We spent more time outside of the house in the garden, which was a great help having the toys etc. from you to encourage both kids to play outside and play together."
"The packs were brilliant as my children have prescribed exercise in their EHCP and medical plans but without indoor sports, gyms, swimming pools etc. it was really hard to engage them and keep up the variety of activities."
"My son wouldn't step foot anywhere, including the garden. This pack enabled him psychology to do so and he enjoyed all the items he picked. It made such a difference. thank you so much. Him choosing the items and all being new items were brilliant for him and his needs also. We really appreciated it."