Pupils with disabilities enjoy surfing lessons as part of inclusive PE offering

Local pupils enjoy surf lessons as part of inclusive sports sessions

Eight primary aged children with medical conditions such as Dyspraxia, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and ADHD have taken part in confidence-building surf sessions thanks to a new partnership involving Active Schools Moray and the SwimABLE and SurfABLE projects run by Moray charity Friendly Access.

The sessions which took part on surf boards at Forres swimming pool introduced a completely new, person–centred experience for children, who previously found it difficult to participate in mainstream sports sessions.

Working on balance and coordination, the sessions give an extra sense of fun that can really keep participants engaged and use equipment such as floatation aids, flippers, fins, masks, toys and hoops.

The hope is that familiarity with the equipment and skills learnt in the pool will get kids ready for trying surfing out in the sea.

Rosalyn Carruthers, Active Schools Coordinator said, “these sessions provide a unique opportunity for children to be active and gain essential skills in the water and in some cases overcoming a fear of the water. Each week there is progress, and this extends into the classroom and at home. There is huge value placed on these sessions by the child, parents and the school staff. Their feedback has shown the hugely positive ripple effect these sessions are having.”

One parent said, “We’ve tried swimming lessons but had to stop as she wasn’t coping and was getting herself upset and worked up and didn’t want to come, this is so different she feels like she belongs”

Glyn Morris, Chief Executive of Friendly Access said, “Taking part in an adventure sport activity is generally thought ‘out of reach’ of many, therefore it is very easy to understand the positive impact for individuals with disabilities and conditions.

At Friendly Access, we mostly consider the environment as being the disabling factor and not the individual. Therefore, we look towards how we as society can adapt to support accessibility.

Driven by the ‘can do’ ethos, it’s exciting to see the genuine shared passion from organisations we work with. Working with Active Schools Moray has been a prime example of just how well partnerships work in promoting improved, inclusive, social and physical opportunities available for children within safe environments, and where understanding is a priority.”