Learning Disability Week

June 14, 2019

This week is Learning Disability Week (17 to 23 June) and the focus of the week is Sport & Inclusion – but did you know that people with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to be inactive!

One in five people in England have a long-standing limiting disability or illness. Disabled people say they are nearly twice as likely to be physically inactive (44.91% in Cumbria), compared with non-disabled people (19.28% in Cumbria).

These statistics may suggest that sport and physical activity isn’t appealing to everyone, that it isn’t inclusive, that it is not accessible to all, or that people with disabilities don’t feel they have the ability to be active. We want to help change this…

Our mission is to advocate the value of physical activity, and increasing opportunities to address inactivity to improve county wide health and wellbeing outcomes.  We’re targeting groups that are under-represented when it comes to physical activity. This includes women, older people, disabled people and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

We have been working with a wide range of partners in line with our vision that everyone in Cumbria is appropriately physically active as part of their everyday life. Here are some examples of what we are doing:

Walking for Health

We’re currently recruiting an army of Walk Leaders around the County as part of the countywide Cumbria Walking for Health Scheme, a 2 year programme running up to end of March 2021. We have trained Walk Leaders from a number of organisations working with people with learning disabilities inc Walsingham Support, The Laurie Brewis Trust (Heathlands Project), Cumbria Downs Syndrome Support Group, Stich-ability & Leonard Cheshire. These new walk leaders will help set up and lead a range of Walking for Health groups across the county. Some of these groups are already up and running, one such group is Cumbria Downs Syndrome Support Group who went for their first Walking for Health walk on World Down Syndrome Day. Find out more.

Satellite Clubs

We are in the midst of discussions to set up Satellite clubs providing opportunities to take part regularly in sport and activity through the creation of enjoyable, convenient clubs for young people that use Oaklea Trust in Kendal and Leonard Cheshire Youthability services in Barrow. We continue to support Cumbria Wheelchair Sports Club with their satellite club provision.

Project Rugby

Project Rugby is run by Premiership Rugby in collaboration with England Rugby and is designed to increase participation in the game by people from traditionally underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities. We approached Newcastle Falcons, the local Premier Rugby Union team to promote ‘Project Rugby’ for people with disabilities within the county. The community team were happy to extend further into Cumbria and the Lawrie Brewie Trust were one of the organisations that took up this opportunity; they received high level coaching and an opportunity to play inclusive games. 

Cumbria School Games

The Cumbria School Games are county level competitions and festivals that take place across the County. A number of these events and festivals have inclusive activities such as boccia, table cricket, pan disability football, table tennis and tag rugby. The tag rugby festival in June, hosted by Cumbria Rugby Union has become a highlight of our events calendar bringing young people with mild-severe learning disabilities together in an inclusive festival of coaching and participation. This year’s Festival at Kendal Rugby Club is even bigger with a carousel of workshops taking place prior to the festival starting. 

Inclusive 2020

Cumbria has been named as one of fifty lead inclusion counties to receive DfE funding to host a sports festival aimed at bringing together pupils from mainstream primaries with additional needs, to experience new para sports ahead of Tokyo 2020. The project, titled ‘Inclusion 2020’, sees collaborative working between the British Paralympic Association and Youth Sport Trust (YST) Athlete Mentors. Our local inclusive lead is Karen at the Lakes School in Windermere. We have worked with Karen to promote a number of activities including a local Panathlon Challenge Xtend and Primary competition where 92 competitors + 28 leaders took part.


This is a new programme from Active Cumbria, which aims to upskill community champions (Activators) to deliver activity sessions in their community. We have piloted the project through a number of organisations including Mencap in Carlisle and Leonard Cheshire Youthability in Barrow who have both received Activate kitbags containing a wide range of sports equipment.

Inclusive Activity Programme   

This is a programme from UK Coaching and the Activity Alliance the inclusion experts in the Sports & Physical Activity sector. We have facilitated two courses in Cumbria, to equip people with the skills to engage disabled people and people with long-term health conditions more effectively in activities. Individuals attending the training have come from a wide range of organisations inc Schools, NHS, Leisure Centres, Gyms, Housing Associations, Disability organisations and Youth clubs.

Activity Finder

We are encouraging all providers of physical activity and sport to add their activity to our Activity Finder where people can find many opportunities to take part in a wide variety of activities. 

Whats on

Carlisle Mencap are holding an event at Harraby Cycle Track and Sports Campus to celebrate Learning Disability Week. This will include a mile for Mencap event, where people can cylcle, walk or run around a track. There will also be gym demonstrations from Border Cross Fit Gyms Ltd which will be inclusive for all abilities. 

Date: Sunday 23 June 2019
Time: 11am to 3pm
Contact: Phil - 01228674393 or phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk