When the first lockdown hit in March 2020, stopping all group activities, many clubs were concerned about the impact on their members due to the role they play in promoting physical and mental health. Manchester-based Lancashire Lions Visually Impaired Sports Club were concerned that their young people would be significantly affected due to the additional barriers faced by the visually impaired community.
To help keep their young people both physically and socially active, the club set up a WhatsApp group to encourage communication and input into activities from all members. During this time one of the young people told the club about Diabetes UK’s One Million Step Challenge and they felt that this was an ideal challenge for the club as, regardless of individual circumstances, all members could get involved at a level appropriate to them. Lancashire Lions then consulted with their members, with support from MCRActive, resulting in the club applying for Satellite Club Covid-19 Emergency Funding to enable the purchase of 10 activity trackers to support the younger club members to engage with this challenge. They also purchase an additional five trackers with club funds for the older members who wanted to be involved.
Throughout the summer they set regular group and individual challenges for the young people which meant they comfortably achieved the one million steps – even though a number of young people were unable to leave their homes! They didn’t stop there though, they have continued to set activities and challenges throughout the subsequent lockdowns to keep members engaged and to support their mental and physical health.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to have a Fitbit of my own. It was always something I wanted to help me become more active… but only through [Lancashire Lions] did I manage to achieve it. Ben’s challenges have been fantastic and keeping us all engaged during the lockdown. It’s really helped with my mental health too so thank you” Haroon (15)
Whilst the trackers have supported the young people to remain active, the resulting motivation has had a profound effect on the mental health of many members. Aman had suffered with mental health issues in the past which were amplified by lockdown. Club committee members spoke with his mum who was concerned that he was becoming isolated, with no motivation to do anything. Once his tracker arrived, Aman pushed himself to meet the club challenges, but also to go above and beyond. He was often top of the step challenges and completed the One Million Step Challenge between July and September on his own! He regularly completed over 20,000 steps per day, became more active on the club WhatsApp group and has continued to push himself to stay active, positively affecting both his physical and mental health.
“During the pandemic, I personally began to feel down and low. This feeling left once I started participating in Fitbit challenges with the club. I no longer felt isolated and began to enjoy the prospect of trying to get into shape.” Aman, 18
Building the movement, meeting people where they're at and being the change are the primary focuses for us over the three years to April 2025.
The Richmond Group of Charities’ physical activity coalition - Movement for All - has developed a new physical activity DVD aimed at people living with multiple long term health conditions.