HEALTH chiefs in North Wales are behind a scheme aimed at finding more disabled sportsmen and women to follow in the footsteps of European and Olympic champion Aled Sion Davies.
Professionals throughout the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are receiving special training to enable them to advise patients on the benefits of physical activity and to channel them in the right direction.
Funded by a Sports Wales Call4Action grant, it is the first project of its kind in Wales and it is hoped to double the number of disabled who are physically active in the region by the end of 2016.
Catherine Chin, Health Disability Sport Officer for the Health Board, said that over 250 clinicians had already attended the training sessions.
“There are a wide range of physical activity and sport opportunities for disabled people across North Wales already - whether an individual has a physical, intellectual or sensory impairment there is something for everybody,” she said.
Among those setting an example is nine-year-old Ana Blease from Holywell, who recently represented Wales in an under-15s’ wheelchair basketball tournament.
The Welsh team finished sixth, the side’s highest-ever placing, and being so young Ana will qualify for the junior championship for the next nine years.
“It’s really fun and I’ve made loads of new friends,” said Ana.
Aled Sion Davies, who was Team Wales captain at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, said he was delighted at the initiative between Sport Wales and the Betsi Cadwaladr Board.
“By upskilling their workforce this will ensure that any patient within the Health Board will be identified and given appropriate information in relation to getting active again,” he said.
“In my childhood says there was no such information available and only by luck did I find out about opportunities to take part in sport.”
Iain Mitchell, Clinical Director for Therapy Services with the Health Board, and chair of the executive group for the combined initiative said that improving the wellbeing of patients by increasing access to sport and physical activity should be part of their core business.