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Fencing for Children with Dyspraxia and Associated Conditions 27 April 2011

Manx Sport and Recreation in association with Mike Westgate, the Northern Ireland Olympic Fencing Coach, is offering a free Fencing Taster Session to all children with dyspraxia, DCD and associated conditions (hypermobile joints, developmental delay with fine and gross motor skills).

This taster session is taking place at the National Sports Centre on Saturday 7 May from 11am to 4.30pm.

The day is split into two separate sessions, one in the morning from 11am until 1pm and a session in the afternoon from 2pm to 4:30pm. Both sessions will teach children the basics in footwork and movements as well as the basics of modern fencing in a fun and exciting way. All children will be awarded certificates for their attendance.

Mike Westgate, presently an Olympic Coach and National Coach for the Northern Ireland Fencing Team, is currently on the sport teaching staff of Foyle College in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Mike has had invaluable experience working with children with Dyspraxia and associated conditions. For the past six years he has been sharing this experience with trainee fencing coaches both male and female at the new Health and Well Being Leisure Centre in Belfast.

This has formed the basis of a new parent and children’s group called the C.O.O.L Group (Choosing Our Own Leisure).The group has met regularly in the Grove Leisure Centre and the Manager of the centre commented that this group has encouraged inclusion of all children to use the Leisure Centre facilities. Other similar groups are providing help to this group of children in UK, Ireland, Canada, and New Zealand.

The concept has been facilitated by Adeline Cully, a highly experienced Paediatric Occupational Therapist presently working at the Central Community Health Centre in Douglas. With the support from the Boston Charitable Foundation, the Sports Development Unit has been able to purchase two brand new sets of fencing equipment, including 20 foils and helmets. Rubber foils will be used at all times during the session to ensure health and safety.

Ruth Robinson commented: 'The Boston Charitable Foundation is delighted to support such a worthy cause. We hope that the equipment provided will get many years of beneficial use by local children with dyspraxia and associated conditions.'

Parents /carers are encouraged to stay for the duration of this taster session to see how fencing skills can help to benefit their child. If there is enough interest shown, a discussion about this sport and its future development will be held between 1pm and 2pm on the same day in the NSC Meeting Room. All parents are encouraged to attend.

Research suggests that statistically 6% of all children in the population of the UK have Development Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia) with associated conditions. This fencing taster session will help to improve access and show more recognition to children with disabilities, as more sporting opportunities are now being made available. More access and opportunity allows children to join in and reap the benefits of an active lifestyle in a fun and inclusive environment.

Hon David Cretney MHK, Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure commented: 'This is a great new opportunity for children to participate in. By working with our colleagues in the Department of Health we have been able to plan something really exciting. Thanks to Mike Westgate for taking a moment out of his very busy schedule to come to the Island and deliver this fantastic taster session.'

For more information on this initiative, please contact: Zoe Carney – Disability Sports Development Officer. Tel: 688575.

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