Recite Me

A pioneering sports challenge designed for people with learning disabilities has launched in Leicester.

The Round the World Challenge, launched by Mencap, Sport England and The National Lottery, was created to tackle exclusion, isolation and to get people active.

It was hosted by the VALUES team at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) who are dedicated to supporting those with learning disabilities.

People with a learning disability have a lower life expectancy than the rest of the general public - 27 years lower for women and 23 years lower for men. This can stem from other inequalities that restrict mobility, confidence and healthcare.

Regional project manager for the Round the World Challenge, Jon Stonebridge said: "Of course the main part of this is the health benefits but it also builds confidence and develops social wellbeing.

"This will address those inequalities."

The programme invited people to partake in different activities turning hours of sport into a 'round the world' adventure.

Three different routes include 20, 40 and 100 hours of activity amounting to a trip around the UK, Europe and the whole world respectively.

On a weekly basis, participants will be able to do basketball, football, archery and more to complete their journey before either progressing into coaching, volunteering, joining an employment programme or aiming to stay active.

Leicester Tigers rugby player, Harry Wells attended to support the launch event.

"It's great to see anyone getting involved in sport and there's a real sense of community here," he said.

Katie Hasman had previously struggled with mental health issues but said the challenge as well as other VALUES activities has helped.

"The people here welcome you with open arms and they don't judge you.

"I was excited about this because people have been talking about it for a while," she said.

Russell Ingram has been a long standing participant of Mencap sports sessions and is now working towards 100 hours of activity.

For Umar Pardesi, 36, it was the first time he took part in a sporting challenge of any kind.

He said: "I've done basketball, badminton and everything.

I've really enjoyed it and it feels really good to make new friends.