Student sets up exercise group to champion people with disabilities

A Shrewsbury College student has launched a new scheme to encourage people with learning and/or physical difficulties to join a weekly exercise group in Shropshire.

Ben Sutton Jones, 21, from Bayston Hill, who has just completed his Level 2 IT Diploma at Shrewsbury College, set up the group to champion those with difficulties who may feel excluded from popular public groups.

Ben, who himself has learning and physical difficulties, is an ambassador for the Shropshire Health Champions, which was set up as a response to a health project supported by Shropshire Council’s Children’s Services and Shropshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and in partnership with Shropshire and Telford NHS Trust and other health organisations.

Ben wanted to champion people with disabilities and give them the opportunity to take part in fitness sessions which he has arranged to take place in the Quarry Park, Shrewsbury, on Saturday mornings with encouragement with the already successful UK franchise, Park Run.

Ben said: “My aim is to make a group for people with disabilities, of any sort, to encourage them and get them more involved with able bodied people.

“I heard the Council was looking for young health champions and I am interested in sport. Through the Council, I have been to training for this programme in Leeds. I have had help from the Council’s Youth Working teams. I am making posters and leaflets and will be publicising around Shrewsbury.

“I will lead the exercise and it will be appropriate to people’s needs. Carers are welcome to attend.”

The group is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The official opening of the run took place earlier this month, on Saturday July 18.

Ben was greeted at the launch by a handful of enthusiastic members of the public and special guest, Mayor Beverley Baker.

Young Health Champions Project Manager, Karen Higgins, said: “Those that turned up took part in a single lap of the dingle with lots of smiles. It really was great fun and I am very impressed with all the thought and planning. The Mayor was also in attendance full of praise for Ben’s initiative.”

If you or someone you know would like to join the group, the sessions will take place every Saturday morning at 9am in the Quarry and those wishing to attend are asked to meet by the entrance to the Dingle. Please contact Karen Higgins for more information on 01743 277593.

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