South Lynn West Norfolk Self Advocacy Project finds badminton has mental health benefits too

West Norfolk SAP Racket group
West Norfolk SAP Racket group
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The West Norfolk SAP (Self Advocacy Project) Racket group is a part of SAP which is a new venture for the group.

The tutor for this group is Janis Baker, a qualified coach who has been working with SAP since 2012, delivering badminton at the Discovery Centre. Due to the loss of the venue, the group have set up a badminton club within the SAP Group, which is voluntarily run and meets every Friday at 10am at South Lynn Community Centre. The badminton club is every other Friday.

As a group for adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues members are always being told to exercise and to eat well. However, there are very few groups who successfully cater for the clients in an inclusive way. Janis is extremely successful in this respect and due to her work she has been able to retain and build on the attendance of the badminton and short tennis sessions.

There are many benefits of racket sports especially for a group of people with many different disabilities and fitness levels. Each member is able to play at the level that suits them and always leaves the session feeling positive.

The SAP Group stated: “We have members who have mental health issues and this results in isolation, feelings of worthlessness and paranoia as well as many other clinical events that can cause members to withdraw from all activities and communities.

“We have found racket games are much better than any form of team game that can be intimidating. Having the ability to either play against a trusted person or in the case of doubles to play with a trusted partner gives members the confidence to have a go.

“We have seen people come in and play for 10 minutes one week only to then build up and play full games eventually encouraging and supporting others to take part in true peer advocacy.

“The members who have played games with Janis tend to be more engaged and positive about their other activities. There are obviously physical health benefits but we have been very pleased by the very clear mental health benefits that are lasting and build from one week to the next.”

Anyone wishing to join or find out more about the group email janisb1@btinternet.com