Friday afternoons at Leep1 was the highlight of everyone’s week. Our Healthy Living sessions with personal trainer and coach Anthony Beardsley were fun, active and educational. Tony, founder of Beyond Inspired believes ‘Health is for Everyone’ and is passionate about helping people and giving opportunities to those who are often over looked.
“The part can never be well unless the whole is well” Plato
Self-care and fitness is something many of us will admit we need to do more of but it is even more important to promote and educate in the learning disabled community. Excercise and keeping active not only has physical health benefits but is directly linked to mood and mental wellbeing. It is known that even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases mental alertness, energy and positive mood states.
The mental health of the nation is more of a discussion point than ever before. Lockdown has had a particularly detrimental effect on our members: the drastic changes in routine, loss of sense of purpose, heightened anxiety and the lack of contact with friends and various support networks has been extremely challenging for them to deal with.
Our Facebook Group Page has a busy timetable of activities which helps provide our members with a regular routine. Many activities promote mental wellbeing ranging from relaxing Yoga sessions to creative play in Art and Drama.
The impact of physical activity on wellbeing – mentalhealth.org
Inspiring and motivating
To help motivate and inspire our members to maintain their physical and mental health through exercise we supported them to start using step counters and Health Apps to monitor their daily activity. Tackling motivation and low mood can be difficult as it is often a cycle that perpetuates itself but by encouraging everyone to share their efforts on the group page we motivate and support each other to reach personal goals. An added incentive was the coveted ‘Active Member of the Week Award’ which is announced every Friday afternoon.
Step counter readings from some of our Members
Virtual Exercise Sessions
Since lockdown we have continued to work with Tony and the sessions are running very successfully on Zoom. The sessions include a lot of exercise but also health check -ins and tips on healthy eating. Tony is brilliant at motivating the group and it is really encouraging to see that Friday afternoons is still one of the highlights of the week.
Over the last month we’ve seen more of our classes and sessions move to video communication via Zoom. Our Facebook live sessions are still popular but there was a unanimous vote by our members to move more sessions onto Zoom so they could be more interactive.
We’re really excited that our very popular Friendship Group has returned this week. These sessions are vital in keeping people connected and reduces social isolation, but are more important than ever in these current times as people struggle with their mental health and loneliness.
Last night’s first session was a time to gather ideas, have a good chat, have fun, laugh and socialise. The group is also a great chance for newer members to form friendships in a safe environment as they settle into the online way of life. Last night’s fun activity was a Tik Tok Dance which was brilliantly performed by everyone – including the staff!
Friendship group is open to Leep1 Facebook Group members: Every Wednesday between 6pm -8pm.
During the lockdown period it was becoming evident that our daily lives were taking place online more so than anywhere else. Whilst writing this on my 100th day on lockdown, I can honestly say I would be lost without it. I wouldn’t be able to contact friends, family, order my shopping and I wouldn’t be able to do my job without the many brilliant platforms, apps and programs available. Our brilliant Facebook group at Leep1 wouldn’t have existed without the lockdown and I probably wouldn’t be writing this and discovered a whole new side to our wonderful community at Leep1.
However with every technology there is always a dark side. When planes could fly for the first time people could travel for the very first time in the air. However it wasn’t long before they were used for less humane means and mass destruction.
The same can be said for spending time online. We are faced with a myriad of special life changing offers, new friend requests from people we don’t know and emails from Nigeria requesting our bank details. At Leep1 we are pioneers in getting our members with learning disabilities online to access new opportunities, learn new skills and advocate and campaign for learning disability rights. These are naturally all great progressive aspects of what we do at Leep1.
As chief Twitterari for Café Leep I have seen only one trolling comment in 5 years in respect of the 23,800 tweets I have sent, which is naturally a good thing. When I see a follower that is called MakeMoneyNow or something far worse, I can naturally choose to block it.
I have been schooled along the way as the technology has developed. This is why I have lost count at the number of emails I have in my personal account. I just don’t open half of them and they sit there for years gathering dust as when I first discovered phishing emails I was advised not to bother opening them… maybe I took the advice one step too far, but better to have 5,000 emails sitting there than a negative figure sitting in my bank.
So just last week as part of learning disability week #LDWeek we ran a Twitter masterclass on Zoom everyday. This was a great example of how we are promoting digital inclusion and teaching new skills. Whilst this is a great tool to share and promote ideas, we naturally had to highlight the negative aspects of twitter.
We highlighted the accounts we had blocked and why: some were phishing and some were just downright inappropriate. We suggested only following people who share the same ideals to create a positive timeline. We started with the old computer adage of GIGO that I learned at school in 1989 – garbage in, garbage out. So if you follow garbage, you will get garbage following you and this will likely cause you problems in the long run.
We covered hashtags and the best ones to use. Some hashtags that you may choose to use may also bring you unwanted followers. So despite concentrating on adults with learning disabilities of twitter, I would never use the word adult with a hashtag in front of it.
We mainly suggested that our members follow trusted organisations. We saw that one of our members Sapphire was following Leep1, People Matters, Leeds Autism AIM, Forum Central, St Annes, Asking You, Café Leep, Advonet, People in Action, Easy on The I, Through The Maze, and Connect in The North. We think that’s cool! Bernadette, who recently signed up to twitter also had a similar list of organisations that she follows.
So we think our twitter classes went alright but there are always some sharks out there so these sessions were run in conjunction with sessions about Scam Awareness.
Scam Awareness with SAFER Project
The sessions were run by Angela Cawthra from West Yorkshire Trading Standard on Zoom. Angela is the Safer Team Community Project Officer. At these sessions Angela helped our members understand the role of West Yorkshire Trading Standards and The SAFER Project in particular.
The SAFER Project (Scams And Frauds Education for Residents) helps older people and vulnerable adults in West Yorkshire understand and protect themselves from scams, frauds and doorstep crime. They deliver FREE informal and interactive community workshops on a number of topics, including the Scams and Fraud sessions of which we had the pleasure of being at via the zoom sessions.
At the Scams and Fraud workshop our members were made aware of the most common types of scams and frauds in circulation, how to avoid them and where to report them to. The sessions were interactive and informal and encouraged participants to share their experiences, focusing on how to deal with scammers confidently and what the most common scams are. At the end of the session our members received free resources and signposting so that they could access the right support and advice if they ever needed it.
In our sessions Angela touched upon offers that appear to be too good to be true, Facebook posts about winning iPads, fraudulent emails wanting you to provide your bank details. Angela explained to all that such communications were indeed fraudulent and designed to trick you. We also covered what private information is such as National Insurance Numbers, Bank account Numbers, and yourpostal address.