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Neath Port Talbot

Youngsters with disabilities encouraged to scale sporting success

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Children living with disabilities are reaching new heights to overcome any perceived barriers to their being active and enjoying sport.

Swansea Bay’s physiotherapy service organised a series of taster sessions for a variety of activities, held across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

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Amongst the opportunities offered to the youngsters were indoor climbing, paddle boarding, surfing, yoga and an army-style mini assault course.

It is hoped that those who took part will develop a thirst for sport and become more active, ensuring that they benefit physically and emotionally from regular exercise.

Rebecca Kennedy, Strategic Physiotherapy Manager for Primary and Community Physiotherapy Services in Swansea Bay, said: “We organised a number of activities, aimed at encouraging children with disabilities, or children who may not normally access activities, to give them a try in the hope they will be inspired and have the confidence to exercise and to be more active independently.

“We had a great uptake and the feedback so far has been excellent. They have all really enjoyed it and feel so much more confident to try things independently.

“They come in and they are really nervous and worried – we have had a couple who needed to be really coaxed to join in – but it’s lovely to see them once they have warmed up.

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“There’s great comradeship, with arms around each other and a helping hand if someone’s a bit stuck.”

As well as improving health and fitness, Rebecca said such activities had additional benefits.

“Not only are they doing more activities, they have also made friends, they are feeling more confident. I think there has been a well-being improvement as well as their fitness and activity levels.”

Those who took part have been shown where to find further opportunities to become more active.

Rebecca said: “We have encouraged them to look into opportunities to continue. Often, they just need to have that confidence to try something, with a little bit of support from us, to be able to continue independently afterwards.

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Children showing their disability is no barrier to them conquering the climbing wall (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

“Disability Sport Wales has an excellent link where you can put in the post code for your particular area and it will signpost you to all the activities which are accessible for people who may have additional needs or a level of disability – so we encourage people to have a look at that as well.

“It doesn’t have to be a sport or exercise, just an activity – our whole ethos is about encouraging people to be more active, and that can be just having a little play in the park or walking to the shop or walking a bit further than you would normally. For children, particularly, it’s about the fun element.

“The message is about being active – it doesn’t have to be about traditional sports and activities.”

The health board is also recruiting a health disability activity practitioner to further encourage youngsters and adults to become more active.

Mark James, father of seven-year-old Kian, gave his backing to the scheme.

He said: “It’s important that there are opportunities for all children with disabilities – get them out and getting them to try something, like climbing, that they wouldn’t usually try is great for them.

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“This is Kian’s second time indoor climbing and he’s becoming more confident. He’s doing well and he’s enjoying it.

“He was a bit scared of the heights but he’s getting a bit higher each time. Fortunately, his brother came along, and he’s going right to the top, so the competition is pushing him on.

“He also sees other boys with a similar disability doing well, and that encourages him to think, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”

Of the session Kian said: “It was good. The instructors help you and I wasn’t scared at all.

“Hopefully I will get all the way to the top one day.”

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Nine year-old Charlie enjoying one of the taster sessions (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Julia Knaggs, mother of nine-year-old Charlie (Pictured above), who managed to climb to the top, said: “I think it’s good for him, mentally, to see that he can do it, and, of course, the activity is good for them physically.

“It’s also about being around other children who have similar physical difficulties. It’s the knowing that there are other children out there.

“He kept going and going – he was determined – and it was good to prove that he could do it. He will be chuffed going away from here.

“As a parent you are always proud to see them do something sporting.”

Charlie added: “I like the climbing part as it’s a lot of fun.

“This is my first time and I made it all the way to the top. I didn’t make it the first time but I tried again because I wanted to do it. I made it on the third time – I achieved. I really enjoyed myself.”

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Lead image: Seven year-old Kian at one of the taster sessions (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Dance

Doctors prescribe dance classes to keep patients on their feet

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet.

Five of the health board’s clusters – groups of GP surgeries working together within a geographical area – are backing the scheme as the exercise to music is proven to aid falls prevention.

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Each class is led by a trained dance teacher with participants encouraged to follow a range of routines, designed to develop their strength and balance, with the option of using a chair for support if their mobility is limited.

The Dance for Health programme is a collaboration between the health board, clusters, local authorities, and Aesop, an arts focused charity.

Alyson Pugh, Programme Manager at Aesop, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the health sector to improve the health and wellbeing of people aged over 65 through the medium of dance.

“During each class participants will move to a variety of music from all around the world. The classes are fun and vibrant, increasing fitness, mobility and strength.

“Afterwards, participants will have a good chance to get to know one another over a cup of tea or coffee. No previous experience is needed, everybody is welcome.”

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So far classes are held in Pontardawe, Morriston, Seven Sisters, Cwmavon and Briton Ferry, Upper Killay, Reynoldston, Mumbles and the Waterfront Museum.

Alyson said: “The health board asked for 12 classes across Swansea Bay and funded the management side while the GP clusters are funding the delivery of the classes. They wanted it to be grass roots up.

“Anyone can walk in but they wanted the main referrals to come from the virtual wards and local area coordinators and social prescribers, a whole community approach.”

Lizzie MacMillan (Image: Swansea Bay HNS)

Dance artist Lizzie MacMillan (left), a development officer for Dance for Health, said: “It’s for older people and people who are struggling a little bit with perhaps balance issues, mobility issues as well, so we are not expecting them to foxtrot along the floor on the first class or anything like that. It builds up over the weeks.

“We start off quite gently, just seeing where everyone is in the class – I like to gauge the class first of all to see if people are having problems with balance or perhaps giddiness or joint problems. I like to get to know each person in the class so that I can look after them and know their capacity for movement.

“We use the chairs quite a lot if someone is unsteady on their feet. They can still do a variation using the chair for support. We also do a standing variation if people are a little fitter or a little bit more able to push themselves further in the class.”

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Mike Garner, Cwmtawe Cluster lead, said: “We are delighted to be participating in this programme as it fits in perfectly with our goal of improving well-being and helping people remain fit and healthy.”

One participant, Pauline Anderson, said: “I’ve been to four or five classes. I thought I would try it to see what it’s like and it’s been very good.

“As you get older you become more immobile. I’ve been struggling with my knees and joints, so I have found it helpful.

“I would advise anyone thinking about it to just come along.”

Another participant, Betty Didcock, said: “I try to keep active as much as I can. I used to enjoy dancing when I was younger. I’ve made friends here. If you’re a bit shy, it’s a wonderful place to come to get used to talking to people. I’m a quiet one. I don’t always do it right but I have a go.”

While Amber Davies said: “I thought I’d come along to see what it was like. It’s important to keep busy and remain active. It’s also a good way of meeting new people.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Construction

Housebuilder reports “exceptional demand” as Aberavon development launched

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“Exceptional demand” has been reported as the first homes at a new development on Aberavon seafront were released for sale.

All appointments were fully booked on Saturday as Persimmon Homes West Wales opened the doors to the sales office.

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Two homes were purchased at the Awel Afan development and a further 10 reserved on the Early Bird scheme over a busy weekend.

A total of 137 homes are being built on the former Afan Lido Leisure Centre site on Princess Margaret Way.

Sharon Bouhali, Sales Director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re pleased to have launched our Awel Afan site.

“The demand has been exceptional. Right from the moment we acquired the site and announced the plans, we have seen a phenomenal amount of interest from a wide range of people wanting to live in his amazing location.

“The housing market remains buoyant in West Wales but, even so, the buzz around Awel Afan is almost unprecedented.”

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Opened by the Queen in the 1970s, the Afan Lido was destroyed in a fire in 2009 and the site has been unused since.

Persimmon say the development will bring a massive boost to the local economy through the construction industry and its multiplier effect. According to figures from the House Builders Federation, for every £1 spent on housing, £3 goes back into the economy.

The national house builder says that each home built also creates 1.5 full-time direct jobs – and at least twice that number in the supply chain.

The development will be made up of two, three and four-bedroom houses, as well as a range of two-bedroom flats.

Homes currently on sale include the popular two-bedroom terraced Alnwick with its modern open plan kitchen/diner and the four-bedroom detached Hornsea with ensuite and integral garage.

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Persimmon Homes recently supported Afan Lido Girls FC with a game-changing grant of £20,000 through its Building Futures campaign.

(Lead image: Persimmon Homes)

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Port Talbot

Police launch appeal to find missing disabled woman

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South Wales Police have launched an appeal to find missing Waunarlwydd woman, Kelly Randell.

45 year-old Kelly was last seen in Port Talbot on Tuesday 3 May.

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A wheelchair user with one leg, Kelly is described as being around 5ft of medium build with brown hair which is tied up – possibly in a bun.

She was last seen wearing black jeans and a black coat.

She has links to both Swansea and Port Talbot.

South Wales Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen Kelly, or who has information which will help them to find her, to contact them online or by calling 101 quoting occurrence number 2200149152.

(Lead image: Family photo / South Wales Police)

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