An organisation that provides sports activities for children with special needs is urging businesses, schools and parents to find out more about the opportunities it offers to get involved in its community-based programmes.
Sport4Fitness CIC was founded by Mark Flaxman in 2015 to give children with disabilities, special needs or behavioural difficulties the chance to take part in a variety of sports and activities that can be tailored to their needs in a safe space.
Having organised breakfast, lunch and after school clubs in a previous role, Mark was aware that the provision of services for children with specific needs was not what it could be, and set about to change that. Since finding a suitable base, at a football training ground at Fernie Fields in Moulton, Sport4Fitness has developed to include an open green space for sport and games, a gardening club with polytunnel, a sensory path, garden and cabin, and a six-hole putting green.
Regular activities include Home Education Multi-Sport sessions, a football club for three to seven-year-olds, a Youth Club for children with additional needs, and a gardening club. Sport4Fitness works with many other groups, one in particular is SENDS 4 DAD, a group that supports fathers and male carers of children with special needs, providing activities for the father or male carers and for their families. Birthday parties, team building day can be held on site, and Sport4Fitness also offers life skills sessions that help build self-confidence and teamwork for special schools and alternative provisions.
“I started with the football class with just one or two children and used that to put the word around and build from there. From clubs I used to run I could see that there was very little participation from children with disabilities or special needs, and decided that we needed to do more to provide sessions that are more tailored to those needs.
“Every session, we start with a plan for what we’re going to do, but if it doesn’t work like that, if someone needs some time to regulate, or being part of a group isn’t for them that day, then we can work round that. We have a sensory cabin within our garden that provides a safe space to aid in participating in an activity, or if someone needs some time out.
“It’s sports provision but we use our experience and educational backgrounds to cater for everyone, and make sure they feel safe and comfortable, whatever their needs.”
Sport4Fitness is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that gives back to the community and each year the organisation holds a disability fun day that raises awareness of the work it does, and the work of groups with which it is linked.
Rachel Flaxman, Sports Coach and Sensory Playworker, added:
“We had 450 people at our last fun day, but we still have a lot to do to raise awareness among parents, special schools, alternative provisions, care homes and businesses who could take advantage of what we provide.
“We are always looking for donations, but we don’t just want a one off. More importantly we are keen to get businesses and people involved through other ways of supporting us, such as volunteering at sessions and putting something back into the community. It’s a fun way to get involved, help us promote ourselves and give more people a chance to get involved in sports activities or any of our other activities.”