British Blind Sport have announced the launch of a new pilot study, First Steps: activity pack for visually impaired children. 53 children with sight loss and their families are participating in the study and will receive their First Steps activity packs over the next couple of weeks.

 Thomas Davies from British Blind Sport said:
“We have worked for 40 years to help blind and partially sighted people get active and play sport.

“Our First Steps programme is designed to introduce visually impaired children into the world of activity and sport. We can’t wait to learn how the families use the pack and how it improves the health of the 53 children in the pilot.”

Obesity and inactivity are two major challenges facing the world. 1 in 3 children in the UK are obese or overweight. With only 21% of boys and 16% of girls meeting the government’s guidelines of 60 minutes activity each day.

Many visually impaired children struggle with physical activity. Reasons for this include poor inclusive PE teaching and sometimes bullying in school. Research shows that physical activity decreases during major life transitions, such as leaving school and the onset of adolescence. It is therefore vital that children in this age group are provided with positive activity options.

First Steps is the charities contribution to this battle against obesity and inactivity. British Blind Sport aims for the pack to contribute to the globally recommended 60 minutes of activity per day and give children the confidence to join a local, accessible sports club. Designed for visually impaired children aged 7 to 12 years old, the pack includes everything a family needs to lead a more active life:

·        Audible ball: A bright and bouncy ball with ball-bearings inside to allow a child to hear the ball.

·        Activity booklet: Simple and enjoyable games that encourage the entire family to play together.

·        Local clubs booklet: A set of engaging and accessible sports clubs that are passionate about inclusive activity.

·        Progress poster: Tracking the child’s daily achievements to encourage habitual activity.

National Lottery through the Big Lottery fund has funded this new First Steps pilot study in Birmingham and Coventry. In addition BBC Children in Need are supporting a rural pilot study across the Midlands regions. British Blind Sport are working with the families who take part in the pilot study to understand how they use the pack and whether it can achieve the project’s aims.