Sport for Confidence

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An Essex-based organisation have been achieving great results using their own unique approach to help the disabled.

Sport for Confidence is a project aiming to support people with and without learning disabilities to access positive opportunities to engage in an inclusive sport and physical activity programme.

It is run by a growing group of healthcare professionals that use sport within Leisure centres to help individuals gain confidence, make friends and improve both their mental wellbeing and physical health.

The organisation was co-founded by Lyndsey Barrett, an Occupational Therapist who through her many years of experience had seen first-hand how sport can increase confidence, social skills and independence. The group she has developed work in partnership with leisure professionals, sports clubs, coaches, carers as well as other Occupational Therapists to encourage individuals to participate in regular physical activity. It is this combination of specialists that work with Occupational Therapists that sets themselves apart from other sport activities available for the disabled.

But what exactly is Occupational Therapy? It is a discipline that aims to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational Therapists like Lyndsey achieve this by working with both individuals and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to.

The approach used by Sport for Confidence has had many success stories. One touching example is that of John, who had a diagnosis of a mild learning disability, recurrent depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. Before his time with Sport for Confidence, John had been unable to leave his home environment due to high levels of anxiety and a severe phobia of public transport. He began occupational therapy at home and then gained enough confidence to cycle to a venue and now engages in a number of different sports. With the help of Sport for Confidence he has become less anxious and more positive. He is now happy travelling via a combination of public transport and walking, giving him a sense of independence that has translated into other areas of his life. So much so that he even has become involved with cooking sessions, joined a local Kung Fu club and is undertaking a bricklaying course at college.

Success stories like John’s have seen Sport for Confidence grow and now they have over 70 regular participants in 8 different activities. The majority of these activities take place at Basildon Sporting Village with sessions from Monday to Friday including cricket, boccia, fencing and trampolining amongst others. They also run sessions at Epping & Ongar on Mondays and Wednesdays. Due to the current success of Sport for Confidence, it will soon be coming to Braintree, Witham, Hadleigh Park and Castlepoint. Each session costs £2.20, however fencing costs a little more due to the specialist equipment involved.

If you are interested in attending and becoming part of the Sport for Confidence success story, you are encouraged to come along and watch a session so that you can see what’s involved and meet the coaches. If you would like to know more about Sport for Confidence please check their website or contact Lyndsey or Jake via email: and

Further Reading

Sport for Confidence website

Follow Sport for Confidence on Twitter

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