The general benefits of being active are well documented. It helps improve health, boost self-esteem and mental wellbeing alongside a wide range of educational benefits. However opportunities for sport are not always accessible or inclusive, and this can be even greater for people with disabilities.
1 in 5 people in Birmingham have a disability or long term health condition, but less than 14 per cent of these individuals regularly take part in physical activity or sport.
To encourage more people to take part in sport, Birmingham based sports charity Sport Birmingham have partnered with Irwin Mitchell, Birmingham Children's Trust to help raise awareness of disability sport and encourage more people to take part in sport.
The Birmingham Inclusive Sports Festival is an annual flagship event organised by the Birmingham Disability Sport Forum and offers people regardless of age, ability or background a chance to take part in 'have a go' sports that are inclusive. These activities include football, table cricket, wheelchair & VI tennis, archery, boccia, adaptive cycling, laser shooting, wheelchair basketball and even indoor fishing, all under one roof!
This year's events took part at Aston Villa Football Club in June and most recently at the University of Birmingham on 1st July as part of the Mayors Community Weekend. The Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street was in attendance, as was Yvonne Mosquito Lord Mayor of Birmingham who attended on both days. Dominick Cunningham, Olympic GB gymnast and motivational speaker Charlie Fogarty MBE were also on hand to inspire the audience of individuals with varying impairments.
Andy Street was delighted to state his support for the day, even trying himself some of the lesser-known inclusive sports, such as Kurling and Boccia:
"This is an incredible event as part of the Mayor's Community Weekend; highlighting that whatever your disability you can play a sport and participate. The Birmingham Inclusive Sports Fest is a wonderful celebration of genuine diversity across the Midlands and Sport Birmingham should have a great sense of pride that they have been able to make this happen."
In addition to the variety of sports, a series of practical health and wellbeing workshops are delivered for parents, carers and staff. The event also includes a marketplace for people to sign up & find out more information about inclusive sport, activities and other relevant services in the city.
Mike Chamberlain, Chief Executive of Sport Birmingham, said: "The Birmingham Inclusive Sports Festival is an excellent example of how sport can unite people from different backgrounds. It is totally free and provides a platform where people with and without disabilities can socialise, enjoy sport and find out more about how they can take part together in and around the city"
Emma Rush, Partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: "We were thrilled to support BISF once again this year across two excellent days of inclusive sporting activities. The festival is hugely positive and great for the wider community and something that we have been really proud to be part of. It reflects our own 'Don't Quit Do It' philosophy perfectly and really helps make a difference by helping people of all ages and abilities to get in contact with inclusive sporting activities near them."
The inaugural Birmingham Inclusive Sports Festival took place in 2013, and saw over a hundred people of all ages take part in taster sessions across a variety of inclusive sports. Since then, the festival has touched the lives of over 1,000 people, attracting the support of Irwin Mitchell, Big Lottery Fund, Birmingham Children's Trust and over 50 volunteers.
Volunteers and organisations can get involved in the Birmingham Inclusive Sports Festival by helping organise and deliver activities or by raising awareness and opportunities for disability sport in the city. You can find out more at https://www.sportbirmingham.org/inclusive-sports-festival