This week will see a series of events take place in support of people with learning disabilities, with a focus on the development of new friendships and relationships.
Learning Disability Week runs from 20-26 June 2016 and is co-ordinated by MENCAP, the leading voice of learning disability.
The recent WDBS Woking Open was the first world disability snooker competition open to people with learning disabilities. Many of the players who took part were part of a coaching group organised by WDBS director Bob Hill, a leading snooker coach in the Bristol area who recognises benefits of snooker for people with learning disabilities, including the creation of new social opportunities.
“I really believe snooker is an ideal sport for players with learning disabilities,” said Hill. “It involves an intuitive set of ideas, such as potting balls and taking it in turns; it’s interactive, giving players the chance to socialise while taking part; and it requires focus while not being over-complicated.
And the rewards do not only extend to the players themselves, but also to coaches such as himself and fellow WDBS director Tim Squires, who also coaches learning disability groups.
“Coaching players with learning disabilities is the best part of the coaching I do because the players involved gain the most rewards from it,” continued Hill. “It’s not only about improving skill, but about players gaining confidence and social skills. One player in my group barely spoke during his first three sessions, but he has gradually made friends. He recently competed in the Woking Open tournament and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I would encourage other coaches to develop snooker groups for players with learning disabilities – there are lots of skills and enjoyment to be gained from it. You will have a really positive impact on those who attend.
“I would also urge community organisations supporting people with learning disabilities to look at what snooker provision exists near them and give it a go. Or else contact the WDBS to find out how to get started.”
For more information and to support Learning Disability week please visit MENCAP’s website and tweet using the hashtag #LDWeek16