The parents of a severely disabled woman, diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, have praised a council-run sports programme for helping to boost her mental and physical wellbeing.
Rebecca Marriott, 34, from Clifton, attends Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre, in Biggleswade, for a weekly multi-sports club for adults with disabilities called No Limits.
Rebecca requires round-the-clock one-to-one support and has been registered disabled since birth, when paediatricians at Addenbrooke’s Hospital only gave her a life expectancy of 25 years.
Her condition could only be diagnosed as close to Williams Syndrome, which is a genetic condition that can affect anyone and is characterised by medical issues, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning difficulties.
These conditions often occur side-by-side with striking verbal abilities and highly social personalities – and that’s where No Limits plays its part.
Rebecca’s favourite activities at the club are basketball and skittles and, while an electronic speech device with assistive speech software and symbols has enabled Rebecca to communicate, these sessions, her mother Wendy says, have further boosted her abilities to interact with people.
Wendy said: “It is a brilliant session for my daughter to be able to access. She looks forward to Tuesdays so much that when she comes home from her daytime care she packs her bag that night ready for next week’s session.
“As parents we look upon this session as therapy without the therapist. It gives her much-needed exercise – stretching her muscles – communication skills and social interaction with her team-mates, therefore applying physiotherapy and speech therapy without her even realising it.
“The activities are suited to her abilities, enabling her to be the same as her peers by taking part, being included and looked upon as any other person. I’d like to thank the brilliant No Limits staff for their time, patience and understanding of each individual participant.”
Rebecca also attends Supported Independent Living Skills courses at both Bedford College and Barnfield College in Biggleswade, plus the Home Farm Trust Resource Centre in Shefford, the Biggleswade Mencap Gateway Club, Beavers disabled swimming club, Flutters Bingo in Biggleswade and Shefford Library. She also has a keen interest in 60s music, steam traction engines, the Red Arrows, garden birds, horse racing and the Vulcan aeroplane.
Rebecca said: “I really enjoy my No Limits session and I look forward to Tuesday. I love trying to knock all the skittles down and I love the basketball.”
The Biggleswade facility also run children’s sessions and the two age group classes are available elsewhere at Central Bedfordshire Council leisure centres, including Sandy.
Cllr Brian Spurr, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive member for community services, said: “To hear of Rebecca’s story and the joy that the No Limits sessions bring to her life is hugely satisfying. It highlights why we are so committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all our residents, while also supporting vulnerable people.
“I would also like to echo the gratitude that Mrs Marriott has expressed for our staff, who do such a great job in providing these truly valuable services which help enrich people’s lives.”
No Limits, which is run by Central Bedfordshire Council in partnership with Team Beds & Luton, with a £350,000 grant from Sport England, is a three-year initiative which began in 2014.
For more information on No Limits sessions go to: http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/learning/local-offer/leisure-and-recreation-opportunities/Default.aspx, or contact physical activity instructor Robin Osborn by phone on 0300 300 4621 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org