Scotland’s Learning Disability Week this year, happening right now, takes the theme of ‘community’ – whoever we are, and wherever in Scotland we live, we can all be part of one.
Communities can mean different things to different people but they all have one thing in common – a thriving community is one in which everyone feels connected, included and able to contribute. They play an important role in preventing us from feeling lonely or isolated by bringing us together with friends, neighbours and people with shared interests, helping us to build a support network, and creating a sense of belonging.
We are all aware of the health benefits that sport and physical activity brings, from helping to prevent and manage a range of health conditions, strengthening muscles and bones, andhelping to maintain a healthy weight.
But did you know that being physically active is also a great way to feel part of a community? Activities like joining a local Zumba class, playing 5-a-side, and running with colleagues at lunch time bring us together and make us feel good.
Sadly, people with learning disabilities often face significant barriers to physical activity, including a lack of confidence, feeling unwelcome, feeling unsafe, and local venues and activities not being accessible. Although the national physical activity guidelines are the same for adults with a learning disability as adults without, recent studies show that adults with a learning disability are twice as likely to be inactive.
This is a real problem for the 23,446 adults with a learning disability in Scotland, who risk feeling excluded from the communities they live in as well as experiencing poorer health and wellbeing.
At Edinburgh Leisure, we are a charity dedicated to creating opportunities for everyone in Edinburgh to lead happier, healthier and more active lives. We are proud to provide support to people in the community who face the greatest barriers to being active, including people affected by physical, sensory and learning disabilities, through a range of projects and classes designed to protect their health and wellbeing.