Will Mellor motivates disabled people in Birmingham to be more active

Well known actor and campaign ambassador Will Mellor visited Villa Rockets Powerchair Football Club in Birmingham this week, to raise awareness of Together We Will - campaign that aims to encourage and motivate disabled people, along with their friends and family to be more active.

Image shows Will Mellor with Villa Rockets powerchair football players.

The Together We Will campaign looks to address the low number of disabled people who regularly take part in sport or exercise as highlighted in the most recent Sport England Active People Survey.

Eight National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs) are working together with the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) to deliver the Together We Will campaign, with backing from Sport England.

In Birmingham, around 200,000 people have an impairment or long-term health condition. The city currently has low numbers of active disabled people, with only 13.5% of disabled people reportedly taking part in sport or physical activity for the recommended 30 minutes per week.

Campaign ambassador, Will Mellor hosted a football game with the Villa Rockets Powerchair Football Club at the Doug Ellis Sports Centre. Demonstrating how people with a range of impairments and of all abilities can get involved with the beautiful game. The event hopes to engage and motivate disabled people across the Midlands to get moving, whatever the activity.

The event reflects insights showing that disabled people are keen to involve family and friends when being active. Fun is also highlighted as a key motivator for disabled people to be active.

 Speaking about the campaign, Will Mellor said:

“I’m proud to be part of this campaign which aims to encourage disabled people to be more active. It’s about everyone coming together to have fun and become healthier.
“My sister had Marfan’s syndrome which affected her physically as well as with her learning. She sadly passed away in 2013, but I recall fondly how much we loved being active as a family together. Therefore, I’m really looking forward to meeting our ambassadors and hearing their stories. We can all make a positive change and support more people to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.”

Will joins local Midlands campaign ambassadors Amir Ali, coach and captain of the Villa Rockets Powerchair Football Club, and football fan Jude Liversage at the event.

Image shows Amir Ali and Will Mellor playing powerchair football.Amir Ali (pictured above) from Birmingham, who has dystrophic dwarfism and scoliosis, is coach and captain of Villa Rockets Powerchair Football Club, established by Aston Villa FC. When he not playing in the Premiership Wheelchair Football League, Amir dedicates his spare time to supporting disabled people of ages to be more active. By providing opportunities for people to play football and enjoy other activities at the club and by running after school initiatives in the local area.

Jude, eight, who has cerebral palsy has always had a passion for sport and has been supported by his family to stay active. When Jude was four, his dad Tony sought the advice of Cerebral Palsy Sport (CP Sport) to find a local opportunity for Jude to play football. After joining a dedicated league, they set up their own Frame Football team in Staffordshire.

Lisa O’Keefe, Director of Insight of Sport England, on behalf of all the campaign partners, said:

“We know that disabled people are half as likely to be active as non-disabled people. The National Disability Sports Organisations work with the sector to provide opportunities for a range of impairment groups to address this issue and encourage inactive people to get in to sport and physical activity.
“That’s why campaigns, like Together We Will, are so important. We need to put people and what they want and need at the very heart of everything we do. That includes supporting people to get active in places where they want to take part, in activities they want do and with people they want to be active with.
“We’re really excited about this campaign and are looking forward to working with all the National Disability Sports Organisations to help more disabled people to get active this summer.”

Together We Will campaign shares first-hand experiences from people with different impairments or health conditions, about why being active is important to them. It also brings together useful information and support from the NDSOs on how and where you can begin getting active. As research highlighted that often disabled people do not know where to go to find the right information about opportunities available to them. 

These stories all share a common theme – how being active has supported them to be healthier and stronger, while having fun along the way. NDSOs and EFDS will share disabled people’s experiences of sport and exercise, so others can learn more from the information and make choices about the activities they want to try.

The campaign will run from July to September, as the nation embraces a summer of sport.

Activity organisers and providers can be involved in Together We Will.  Encourage disabled people to take part in your events and share the local support available to disabled people looking to be more active on social media using #TogetherWeWill.  

Next month, Birmingham Disability Sports Forum will also host its annual Birmingham Inclusive Sports Fest (BISF) from Saturday 17th to Sunday 25th September. Coinciding with the Paralympic Games in Rio, the festival will deliver opportunities for disabled people and their family and friends to take part in inclusive sport and physical activity taster sessions. Find out more about the Festival visit Sport Birmingham website.

The Together We Will campaign has now come to an end, but you can continue to find lots of information about the National Disability Sports Organisations, support available and opportunities to be active here.

Together We Will was brought to you by the National Disability Sports Organisations in partnership with EFDS and was supported by Sport England.