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Walkie Talkie initiative to support walking sports participants

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WILTSHIRE Council’s sports development team has launched a session to support its walking sports participants during this difficult time.

The Walkie Talkie initiative allows participants from the weekly walking football, netball and rugby sessions throughout the county to phone in from home and have a conversation with each other in a group environment – maintaining the social-element that many of the members find so vital.

A walking netball participant said “Social interaction is hugely important to our overall wellbeing and now even more so with the current restrictions.  Any way to try and maintain the friendships that have formed from being a part of the walking netball family is really important to us. To have access to a Walkie Talkie group is helpful and beneficial to so many people who may be socially isolated at this time”.

The walking sports sessions are part of Wiltshire Council’s adult participation work, which focuses on creating sustainable informal sporting activities. The sessions, which are delivered in partnership with the relevant national governing bodies, are adapted from traditional sports and take place at a slower pace, making them ideal for older participants, people recovering from an illness or injury, and those who wish to take the first steps to a healthier lifestyle. They also provide a great way to socialise with other like-minded individuals and to meet new friends.

Cllr Allison Bucknell, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: “ Each walking sport session helps individuals physically, but is equally important when it comes to combatting social isolation.

“Examples of this include having coffee and a catch up before and after sessions, organising events and occasions for the group or going that extra mile to give confidence and support to a participant that has low self-esteem or has been through a recent bereavement.

“We want to ensure participants still have the opportunity to socialise with each other at this uncertain time even though it isn’t possible for people to be interacting face-to-face. The Walkie Talkie sessions allow the group to have a catch up much like they would have had on the side of a pitch or court.”

Wiltshire has more than 900 participants now signed up to weekly sessions across all sports, highlighting the success of the walking sports programmes across the county. The walking sports participants will also receive an interactive activity pack helping them to stay focused, active and creative from the comfort of their living room.

For more information on the Walkie Talkie sessions people should email sportsdevelopment@wiltshire.gov.uk

Wiltshire Council’s Active Communities online resources also provide support for people during this difficult time. The resource page covers a variety of topics, including the various library services available online – rhyme times, story times, e-books/magazines, resources on getting creative through mediums like song, dance, art and literature and opportunities to explore Wiltshire’s history. The complete list of resources can be found at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities

Wiltshire Council’s dedicated COVID-19 page can be found at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-coronavirus

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