Get Active: Barking and Dagenham celebrates boccia for the blind
PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 August 2015 | UPDATED: 09:14 03 August 2015
An open day promoting healthy eating and exercise among people with disabilities has been hailed a huge success.
Dozens came to the Eat Well, Live an Active Life, Feel Good event at Valence House on Thursday to enjoy boccia, Zumba and dieting advice.
Neal Crowley, 32, who has cerebral palsy, has been playing boccia for 12 years, and came to promote his Dagenham Boccia Club.
“Boccia really encourages inclusion – you can still play if you have limited hand movement, and it’s great exercise,” he said.
“Today has been great for socialising. People come along to things like this and they get the boccia bug – just like I did.”
Among those attending was Roy Smith MBE, a Paralympian and 2012 torch carrier, who was representing Metro, a charity for the blind.
“This has been a fabulous event – a huge success – and I’m glad to be getting the message out that if you lose your sight, you can still play tennis, cricket, football, or any sport,” the 65-year-old said.
But there was more than just sport on offer on the day.
A Slimming World group for people with learning disabilities also had a stall where healthy eating and weight loss were celebrated.
Lynda Gray, who runs the group, said: “If people eat well and keep active, they are praised – even if they just run up and down the stairs during TV ad breaks, it’s still good.”
Also represented was Blind Veterans UK, which is celebrating its 100th year.
Simon Brown, a former corporal in the Royal Engineers who was blinded by a sniper during the Iraq War while rescuing six people, manned the charity’s stall.
He said: “Blind Vets was created during the First World War, after the gas attacks.
“Nowadays the help you receive is a lot better – but even going back to the Falkland’s War, it wasn’t very good at all.
“What we’re about is giving people the chance to get on with their lives – to travel, play rugby, whatever it might be.”
Another valuable service on offer for the visually impaired is a talking newspaper – but only thanks to the devotion of two generous stalwarts.
John Blake and Iris Jameson have nearly 60 years’ experience between them of recording papers – including the Post.
“Our listeners really appreciate what we do – it helps them keep in touch with what is going on in the area,” John said.
“It is an absolutely essential service and we’re more than happy to do it for free.”