Added on: 26th March, 2018 by Arts_Festivals
A new initiative giving anyone who has been clinically diagnosed, with a disability or a mental health condition, the opportunity to enjoy cue sports for personal growth and wellbeing, was launched in September. It is so successful, that, it is seeking funding to expand with more tables, in the near future, at its current venue and a new second venue.
A new initiative open to anyone diagnosed with a disability or a mental health condition, the chance to play cue sports - called 'Snooker for Health and Friendship' ("SHF") - has been launched on September 13th at YMCA East London in Walthamstow.
The club which offers two-hour weekly snooker sessions on Wednesdays from 4.30-6.30pm, is open to anyone aged 14 or above (of any experience or level) and has more than 20 new members in its first three months.
Thessa Mac, a trustee of SHF, who set up the weekly sessions with YMCA gym coach, Michael Thomas, and co-founded the club together with WheelPower's east London disability-sport project, Motivate East, initiated the club, specifically, for those who needed a venue with full disabled access such as the YMCA, after her intellectually disabled son, David, discovered the amazing social and therapeutic aspects of the sport he enjoys, at a non-disabled access snooker club for U-18 juniors in Camden.
She explained: “Snooker For Health and Friendship is about connecting communities and empowering people, individually and collectively, through cue sports."
"It is not just a sports club." "We have wonderful stories to tell - if you come, meet us!"
“The numbers are continuing to rise and it is fantastic to see people with such a wide-range of disabilities and diagnoses, coming together, to try playing snooker as therapy."
"Out of 25 altogether, with the exception of David and Jacob who have played for under 2 years, the rest of us are all new to snooker - it's been a surprise. Totally random."
SHF is based at YMCA in Walthamstow. It was funded initially for 6 months by Motivate East, an east London disability sport project of WheelPower, the wheelchair sport charity based at Stoke Mandeville, birthplace of the Paralympic movement.
Snooker had been a Paralympic sport for many years from day one of the Paralympic movement.
SHF was also supported by snooker’s governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), which donated the tables used during weekly sessions.
The WPBSA also set up World Disability Billiards & Snooker (WDBS) in 2015 to offer people with disabilities more opportunities to compete at a higher level in the sport. WPBSA hope that some of SHF members will play at WDBS events in the future.
WPBSA's sport development manager, Chris Hornby, said: “It is great to see the development of this snooker group at the YMCA in Walthamstow. Thessa and David have been so passionate about the sport at our WDBS events, so to be able to give them the opportunity to share the passion within their local community has been very rewarding for us all.”
Given the random success and the current ongoing demand, the trustees of SHF have resolved to expand and are now seeking for funding for more new tables, so that more disabled people who are waiting can join.
Thessa smiles as she says, "If you need help, you may contact SHF at 'firstname.lastname@example.org' or on 020 8503 2665. If you like to visit SHF or alternatively to assist with some innovative ideas, likewise, get in touch."
"Positively, we treat our published Values as our chosen Rules. Thereby, together we serve: we don't beg."
"We now have families, parent and professional carers, and those with a disability and/or a mental health diagnosis. It is a caring environment and yet, you are taken out of your comfort zone. That, nurtures resilience."
"In future, we would like to expand to include over-50 seniors in our midst here or at a new second venue. Our present venue is full - unless we add another [snooker] table here. So, we are also expanding - elsewhere."
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