Rowan is a small, vibrant, independent, registered charity providing an arts centre for adults with learning disability in Cambridgeshire. In response to Covid-19, in 2020 they had to stop their ‘normal’ creative workshops and activities. Determined to “stay connected” and continue to meet their aims and objectives supporting local adults with learning disability. Amongst other Art@home activities, they moved their dance classes online which are full of getting people active through movement and dance. They also launched Rowan Rangers their own forest school once restrictions began to lift, and they could be safely outside. These two activities have been a lifeline to the adults with disability and their families
Rowan used the funding which included training on adapting physical activity to build on the success of their creativity in 2020 to cater for students and building in physical activity into all their workshops and activities.
With the funding they were able to provide Zoom and in person sessions promoting a wide range of physical activity to meet the diverse needs and abilities of our students. Everything from, Disco dancing for fun, Movement to Music, Nature Walks, Rowan Rangers – Forest School, to Yoga, Armchair yoga, Creative Storytelling, and more, including encouraging our students to be more physically active every day – not just at Rowan.
Introducing more physical activity to students in a fun and easy way was very important to the students who have learning disabilities and the majority do little or no physical activity each week. People with learning disability often have worse physical and mental health than people without a disability. They are four times more likely than others to suffer from anxiety and depression. Also, as the majority lead sedentary lifestyles people with learning disability have rates of obesity double that of the rest of the population. The project also got family members of students involved as well as Rowan’s Staff and Volunteers joining in many of the sessions, therefore they reached wider audience than expected.
This funding has enabled the staff at the centre to reach out and work with their community differently. It also helped change the organisations perception of physical activity. All staff now try to build in an element of physical activity into all their workshops and activities.
They have seen the benefit of physical activity for participants both for their physical and mental wellbeing. They have learnt lots and are proud to have been able to make a real difference to the lives of Rowan Students, their families, staff and volunteers with the support of tackling inequalities funding.
To find out more about the work of Rowan Humberstone visit their website
Once this framework has been published, we encourage partners to consider how they can implement the framework to make a real change for disabled people to access physical activity, sport, and leisure in the way they want, when they want, with no barriers placed on them by society.