HRH The Princess Royal Endorsing British Gymnastics Scheme

HRH The Princess Royal

It’s one thing for the sports’ governing body to be delivering an innovative scheme to help those suffering from the blight of dementia. But when a much respected member of the royal family comes along to demonstrate a valuable physical activity, everything is given much more meaning.

‘The Help To Move Scheme’ is an age and dementia friendly seated gymnastics programme transforming the lives of people living with the effects of this debilitating condition. Early results have been encouraging, and the project has made a successful return in 2019.

Important Conference

What better place to promote the scheme than at Derby County football club, host to UK Coaching’s Applied Coaching Research Conference. This year’s event was based on the theme, ‘Shape The Future Of Coaching’, drawing  more than 150 coaching practitioners from a number of sports.

Throughout a busy day, delegates enjoyed a variety of sessions and talks from greatly experienced coaching practitioners, keen to impart recent coaching research and practice information. All this is necessary to keep everyone ahead when it comes to coaching, sporting trends and improvements. The aim is to push the bar even further, and this was all about sharing, learning and working together on a number of original ideas.

Love To Move Making A Difference

Head of the British Gymnastics Foundation, Patrick Bonner was responsible for delivering a session on ‘The Love To Move’ programme, as well as an insightful talk. Patrick was then joined by Princess Anne, who took a seat before taking part in the activities of the session itself.

He explained: “HRH The Princess Royal participated in many of the exercises as part of the session and embraced the fun side of Love to Move. It was a great privilege and pleasure to have her engage in our session and we had a very interesting discussion about the programme, its application in benefiting the public and the work we’re doing, more of which we are looking forward to actioning in the coming months.”

Great Work In Northern Ireland

This follows on from a recent pilot event involving Representatives from Disability Sport Northern Ireland and a number of Northern Ireland councils and other community organisations. They combined to enjoy a series of practical and theory sessions across a couple of absorbing days in Cookstown.

“Working with Sport Northern Ireland is helping us increase the reach of the programme by developing more learners” added Patrick.

There’s little doubt by expanding in this way the scheme can also help older people in the province.

A Foundation For Success

The British Gymnastics Foundation has been given invaluable National Lottery funding from Sport England for the ‘Love To Move’ programme. The whole point of this approach is that people living with dementia can be offered the opportunity of getting back their independence.

Careful Planning

The programme carefully integrates the use of gymnastic foundation skills, cognitive stimulation therapy and social interaction activities. Most of the exercises are based on bilaterally asymmetrical movement patterns.

Researchers believe this benefits older people and those with dementia and mild cognitive impairment. By enabling both the left and right side of the brain to process information independently, cognitive function is improved. It all brings positive changes in coordination and the ability to carry out activities of daily living more independently. It’s all put together in a package lasting no more than a hour. It’s been described as “One hour of wonderfulness each week!”

Vital Research

Studies undertaken by Age UK in 2016 revealed: “The Programme has a demonstrable benefit in the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects of older people, and those older people having mild to advanced forms of dementia appear to benefit the most.”

Everyone’s A Winner

This is another example of how gymnastics and sport can put so much back into the community.

Each of our clubs should always remember it’s not just about finding medal winners or competition winners, but actually engaging the community in a caring and positive way. It’s also a reminder that no matter what our physical ability or skill, we all need to keep moving in any way we can.

For more information on ‘Love to Move’, visit the British Gymnastics Foundation’s website.


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