Several of our members also help out in the community by carrying out good deeds as well as keep fit at the same time. GoodGym is a national project designed to take members out of the gym and into the heart of the community. We meet on a Monday evening at 7.00pm at Crook Log sports centre (Right after Run Together!). We help out at local Care Homes, Libraries, Community centres, parks and gardens and charity shops. No task is too small and there is always something for everyone to do.
Our Keep Fit group is fun, friendly and inclusive. It’s run by a professional trainer with support from a qualified volunteer. The group was set up with England Athletics as a short term pilot project over six years ago and has been running ever since – going from strength to strength. Last October, our volunteer won a Run Together award from England Athletics.
Members from the group are also supported and encouraged to take part in a range of other sporting and healthy lifestyles activities to encourage greater community involvement and self-worth.
Bexley Council are also highlighting our work as part of their Connected Communities strategy. National GoodGym have featured several articles about our member’s active involvement in GoodGym locally. Here’s one of the posts which Nick wrote for them.
The clocks have gone forward and so have Bexley Mencap members– with the help of GoodGym. It’s exactly a year now since our learning disability members started to take part in GoodGym weekly group runs. Since then, they’ve become regular enthusiastic members – like clockwork you might say. Chris, Emanuele, Matt and Luke have clocked up over 30 sessions and been joined at various intervals by other interested Bexley Mencap members like Duncan, Robert and Stephen.
Bexley Mencap members first met GoodGym because we’d see them meeting up in the entrance of the leisure centre after we were finishing our RunTogether keep fit group.
Members were quick to see the benefits of carrying out good deeds locally while keeping fit at the same time. After all, we all share the same community. In the last twelve months members have helped out in charity shops and libraries, at youth, community and leisure centres, in parks and gardens, residential and care homes, as well as countless leaflet dropping for charity good causes. We’ve learnt new skills, been valued members of a lovely team, enjoyed ourselves and of course, had lots of healthy exercise and fun along the way! For some members, it’s been a springboard to take part in other community activities.
Tim Dickson, our Group Leader has always very supportive along with regulars, Susan, Sarah, Peter and Shaun, to name but a few. Members now also go to GoodGym Social events.
It also helps that Bexley Mencap members are taking part in a Gateway Beacon Award from Royal Mencap. It’s like the Duke of Edinburgh award aimed at people with Learning Disabilities. So voluntary work and keeping fit ticks the bill very nicely in this respect. This makes GoodGym activities so ideal for everyone to take part in. You don’t need any special skills; just special people to give their time and commitment. And in return everyone benefits.
Having a walking addition to a running group also definitely helps. Our members now take part in both making GoodGym activities even more accessible and there is always a healthy competition about which group will get to our task first. We hope it will encourage new members to join as well. For my own part, I’m proud to be a Walking Leader.
Too often people with Learning Disabilities don’t have a voice or else are reliant on others for help, But thanks to GoodGym, I like to think that their actions speak louder than words.
Nick was also interviewed by National GoodGym about becoming a Walking Group leader. Yes, that’s right. You don’t even have to run to take part. If you’re keen to help out and be part of the team, walk right in!
Here’s what Nick said
In Bexley, there are some members from learning disabilities that come along to the walking group to complete a Beacon Award with Bexley Mencap. Nick says, ‘without the walking group option they really wouldn’t have the chance to take part.’ The walking group is not only helping the community by encouraging new members to join, but helping members with learning disabilities to gain a sense of achievement as well.
Nick was very passionate about how great the walking group option is, especially for learning disability members because it enables them integrate more into the group socially.
Some of the tasks are so close to where the start location is it makes sense to have a walking option as well. The Bexley Trainer Tim Dickson, likes to have a little bit of healthy competition between the runners and walkers as to which group can get to the task first. Currently, the power walkers are winning so the runners need to run quicker!
‘It’s great that more people of all backgrounds and abilities can now be involved.’