Les Mills reaches out to young people with special needs
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Les Mills reaches out to young people with special needs

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A Les Mills fitness instructor is helping widen the reach of the brand’s Born To Move programme by meeting the fitness needs of young people with learning difficulties.

Sarah Beaufoy has adapted Born To Move sessions in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, as part of an ongoing trial that is set to be rolled out.

Born To Move is aimed at all children to help them form positive habits to get moving more. It uses dance, yoga, martial arts and athletic skills set to music. Classes are aimed at different age groups, starting with two to three-year-olds and going up to adolescents.

However, after discussions with parents and carers, Beaufoy identified that some groups of children were unable to take part in mainstream classes.

“They felt expectations were too high, and the competitive aspect was placed far beyond their child’s actual physical and mental abilities,” the instructor said. “They felt there was nothing around in Shropshire or the surrounding area that was fully inclusive to their child’s physical needs which was discouraging participation.”

Beaufoy has adapted sessions using Makaton, a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help people communicate. She uses picture cards to help children understand what songs will be coming up and in which order.

“This is very important for young people with autism. The hall I use isn’t large, so it doesn’t echo; again an important point when supporting young people with difficulties. We also have feelings cards so the young people can communicate their feelings,” Beaufoy said.

She is assisted by two people in class, one with Down’s syndrome and another with learning difficulties, who help mentor the younger participants.

Classes, which consist of eight areas: move, punch, kick, dance, jump, core, games and yoga, each last 45-60 minutes and are held once a week.

Beaufoy, who has received Sport England funding for projects at Severndale Specialist Academy and Born To Move Shrewsbury, added: “Not only is Born To Move great for movement it has also proven to develop young people’s social and emotional skills. Making new friends and moving each week with peers is a positive for all involved.”

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A Les Mills fitness instructor is helping widen the reach of the brand’s Born To Move programme by meeting the fitness needs of young people with learning difficulties.
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