A Bromley man has become the first blind person in England to achieve his Level 2 fitness instructor award.
The achievement by James O'Driscoll, a Coach-ability trainee with London Sports Forum for Disabled People, has set a welcome precedent for blind and visually impaired people. It is hoped his success will bring about a fundamental change in the accreditation process for fitness instructor qualifications and create a lasting legacy for all future blind candidates to become fitness instructors.
Working in partnership, Coach-ability, Central YMCA Qualifications, YMCA Fit and other delivery agencies will develop practical assessment criteria to enable blind candidates to use a support worker to provide feedback on a client's performance.
James said: "I have always had an interest in fitness, and now that I have gained my Level 2 qualification through Coach-ability I can pass on my skills so others will get fit.
"I hope my success will inspire other blind people and anyone with an impairment to train as a fitness instructor or sports coach"
Shaun Powell, Coach-ability project manager said: "We are delighted by James' personal achievement and the long-term outcome to ensure blind trainees can become fitness instructors. We will embed this good-practice model to ensure disabled people have the same coaching opportunities in all sports as non-disabled people."
The course was held at London South Bank University (LSBU), where it was the first fully inclusive Level 2 fitness instructor course.
A joint-funding initiative by Coach-ability and LSBU provided interpreters, support staff and adaptive materials to enable Coach-ability trainees to undertake the same training as non-disabled peers.
Through this course and a YMCA Fit 15 week continuous assessment course, Coach-ability has now trained 12 Level 2 fitness instructors, with disabilities ranging from mental health issues to physical impairment. These fully qualified coaches will be employed by leisure providers and sports clubs to increase fitness levels across London and will help challenge and change the perception towards disabled people working in sport.
Coach-ability is a two-year coach-training programme and employment project for disabled people across all London boroughs. Selected Coach-ability trainees are supported through their Sports Leaders Award, and their Level 1 and Level 2 coaching qualification. The project's goal is to train more than 150 disabled Londoners to become high quality sports coaches and create a legacy to open opportunities for disabled people. For more information go to www.londonsportsforum.org.uk/coach_ability.php
Community Newswire, 18th August 2009