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Mencap to set up 27 activity hubs after securing £1m Sport England grant

Mencap has revealed plans to establish 27 activity hubs across England in order to get people with learning disabilities more physically active.

The hubs will offer a variety of activities – including Zumba, boccia and walking rugby – as well as more traditional sports.

To incentivise those with learning disabilities to take part, Mencap – a learning disability charity – has also launched a special Round the World Challenge linked with the activities at the hubs.

Those completing 100 hours of exercise will have completed their "round-the-world trip", with landmarks along the way including 20 hours for crossing the UK and 40 for Europe – with participants receiving ‘postcards’ to recognise their achievement in reaching significant landmarks along their journey.

The £1.7m project will be majority funded by a £1m grant from Sport England, with the sessions at each hub being run by specially trained staff and volunteers.

“This unique partnership between Mencap and Sport England offers the chance for people with learning disabilities to become more engaged with other people and social activity, something Mencap strongly believes in,” said Mencap chief executive Jan Tregelles.

“Exercise is for everyone and can have positive benefits including extended social interaction.”

Sport England's recent Active Lives Adult survey revealed that 43.1 per cent of adults with learning disabilities are classed as inactive – a significantly higher rate than the national average of 25.2 per cent.

Those with a learning disability are also twice as likely to become obese, five times more likely to be morbidly obese and on average will die 17 years before those without a learning disability.

“Sport has such a powerful role to play in building confidence, overall health, employability and strengthening communities,” said Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth.

“So, it is unacceptable that people with learning disabilities are more than twice as likely to be inactive.

“Sport England is determined to play its part in reducing this gap and we believe our unique partnership with Mencap, supported by National Lottery funding, will go a long way in doing just that.

“We must make sport and physical activity an attractive and accessible lifestyle choice – through travelling Round the World for example – so many more people with learning disabilities can lead active lives.”

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