Success for BUD Fitness

A special bootcamp for young people with disabilities in Derry is going from strength to strength.

BUD Fitness is an inclusive bootcamp for young people with disabilities and their friends to get fit through engaging and tailored fitness classes.

Around 25 young people with disabilities attend BUD Fitness weekly, where they take part in a range of classes including circuits and boxercise.

All classes are specially designed to meet the needs of the group by personal trainer Aidan Doherty.

Speaking about BUD Fitness, Gavin Melly, Inclusion Officer at the Playtrail said: “BUD fitness started off as a pilot six-week programme in early 2016, where I designed a qualification around improving personal fitness for young people with disabilities.

“I worked with Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum to identify a personal trainer that could deliver the fitness element of this programme.

“The qualification looked at recognising different exercise and fitness, reviewing own individual strengths and areas for improvement in exercise, whilst also identifying a range of skills to identify time management, appropriate clothing for fitness, adhering to safety instructions and complying to health and safety guidelines.”

The six-week pilot programme was a success, and following a consultation with club members and their parents, Gavin realised the importance of weekly exercises classes for the young people with disabilites.

“It also identified the barriers that young people with disabilities face when accessing fitness and exercise programmes.

“A massive barrier was the correct support for each individual and them being aware of the equipment, understanding how to use it correctly, classes being adapted to meet their specific or complex needs but also being able to participate in fitness classes with their peers,” said Gavin.

The fitness levels of participants is monitored every six weeks to look at progress and areas of developement. It is also used to identify areas of improvement for the young person.

Susanna McClay is 19-years-old and takes part every week. “I love getting the chance to exercise, it makes me feel good after it. It is hard at times, but always good fun,” she said.

Jack Loughrey added: “Boxercise classes is my favourite and I also like doing star jumps and sit ups.”

The group has been successful in securing four years funding to cover the costs of the BUD Fitness programme, and it runs every Wednesday from 7.30pm to 8.30pm in the lower campus of Ardnashee School and College.

BUD Fitness is funded by BBC Children in Need and the Big Lottery N.I.