Adam boxes his way to feeling happier and healthier
Meet Adam Edwards, Together We Will's latest ambassador - who with support from Mencap Liverpool enjoys keeping active and has recently taken up kick boxing.
This summer, Together We Will is encouraging disabled people to become healthier, stronger and have fun being active with friends and family.
In his early twenties, Adam (pictured above in the white t-shirt) who has a learning disability, realised that not being active had a negative impact on how he felt emotionally and so in an attempt to try and feel more energised, he joined his local gym.
After initially visiting quite regularly, Adam soon stopped going to the gym. He didn’t have the motivation or support that he needed to continue and would sometimes feel self-conscience.
Without exercise, Adam admits that he would often be upset about feeling lazy and sluggish, but since being directed to his local Mencap group in Liverpool his outlook has completely changed.
Adam first got involved with his local Mencap group in 2013, when he joined the group’s arts and crafts club, running club and gym. He went on to become a member of Mencap Liverpool in 2015 and is now one of 500 people taking part in Mencap Sport’s national ‘Round the World Challenge’.
The challenge combines fun, physical activity with a round the world adventure – encouraging participants to exercise regularly and try new activities in order for them to reach set milestones and theoretically travel around the world (converting minutes exercised into miles travelled).
“I feel like I’m helping myself to lose weight and be more energetic. I’ve learnt to enjoy exercise thanks to the support of Mencap.
“It’s much more than that though, through exercise I’ve become more confident. I recently gave a presentation to my Mencap group about how they’ve helped me to overcome problems related to my disability, which is something that I would never have been able to do before.
“The staff members have been very helpful and I get on well with everyone – we’re like a family.”
Thanks to the support of Mencap staff members, Adam has been introduced to lots of new sports and activities. He now has his own pedometer that helps him to personally monitor his activity levels.
Adam has also recently started kickboxing, as part of a 12 week programme organised by Mencap Liverpool. Each Friday Adam, and other members of his group, attends a class ran by English light heavyweight Olympic boxer, Courtney Fry in the city.
Here, Adam has been learning different boxing techniques each week. Boxing has helped him to keep fit and learn about how to focus his energies, and to let off some steam.
Speaking about the activities available to him, Adam said:
“Having the help from Mencap has meant that I’m not afraid to go out there and do things. I’ve got the confidence to try new sports, socialise with other people in the group and it makes me feel a lot better about myself.
“To someone who isn’t doing any exercise, I’d say it’ll make you healthier, it’ll keep you fit and you can do it as part of a group so you don’t have to be alone.
“Your clothes will fit you better, you won’t feel as bloated and you’ll feel better about yourself – plus it’s fun to do as well.”
Martin Lees, National Sport Manager for Mencap said:
“Adams’ transformation since starting Mencap’s Round The World Challenge has been incredible to watch. Boxing has opened so many doors for Adam, he has flourished, trying more sports, making new friends and he continues to grow in confidence every day.
“Exercise is a key part of mental and physical wellbeing, but too often people with a learning disability don’t get the chance to take part in the sporting activities many of us take for granted. It’s essential that we give every opportunity for people with a learning disability to get as involved in sport as non-disabled people.
“Campaigns like Together We Will are a great way to get organisations working together to create sporting opportunities that can change the lives of disabled people. Adam is just one example of what a huge impact these schemes can have; transforming from someone who felt unable to try sport, to a sporting ambassador- it is a staggering achievement.”
The confidence and independence that being active gives Adam means that he has also recently taken part in Mencap’s volunteering scheme.
Adam has given his time to help other people with intellectual disabilities to familiarise themselves with using public transport and travel around the city independently.
Volunteer work has helped Adam to boost his self-confidence, and he now also volunteers at Liverpool-based charity, Company of Friends.
Adam helps the charity by carrying out administrative tasks and providing general support to office staff. Adam’s confidence to socialise with new people growing and he is learning new skills all the time.
With support from his local Mencap group, Adam has gone from being inactive and feeling sluggish. To theoretically travelling the world by being active and exercising, and he has found a passion for boxing. More than this, Adam now feels stronger both physically and mentally, which has helped him to boost his self-esteem, build life-long friendships and be more independent in his everyday life. Together We Will.
For more information on Mencap and activity opportunities for people with a learning disability, including ‘Round the World Challenge’ please visit www.mencap.org.uk or call 020 7696 5574.
The Together We Will campaign has now come to an end, but you can continue to find lots of information about the National Disability Sports Organisations, support available and opportunities to be active here.
Together We Will was brought to you by the National Disability Sports Organisations in partnership with EFDS and was supported by Sport England.