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Active Citizens

By Steve Scown, Dimensions CEO
Dimensions CEO, Steve Scown, blogs

Active Citizens are probably two words when put together mean different things to different people. It’s the home page of our new website and given we’re fast approaching  the Olympics and Paralympics it seems as good a time as any to reflect on what the phrase means for Dimensions.

Active. Well, over the course of the Olympics period, we’ll be celebrating some of the sporting achievements of the people we support. Andrew, competing in a table tennis tournament in Denmark, Richard, getting a kick out of his taekwondo classes, and Tom, who found a passion for cycling which has changed his life

Whilst many of the people we support are active, some are not and I suspect this applies to too many people with learning disabilities across the UK. One of the things I feel very passionate about is organisations like Dimensions contributing beyond our boundaries.

We try this in many ways and one I’m very pleased about is our support for “Together We Will” – a campaign being run by the English Federation of Disability Sport – to get disabled people more active.

But Active means so much more than sport. Have you read the wonderful story of Zoe, who lost over 5 stone, an achievement that has literally changed her life? She is much happier, far more outgoing and less prone to challenge those around her.

It can be hard for people with learning disabilities to lose weight, particularly if they are prescribed psychotropic medication. Our Head of Behaviour Support, Nick Barratt, recently wrote a paper on psychotropic medication alongside his recomendations, ensuring that Dimensions remains, as always, at the helm of best practice.

If you have low self-esteem and aren’t very active you can easily see life passing you by and get unhappier and perhaps challenge those around you. If things aren’t right for you and your support provider isn’t focussed on the right things you can end up in a vicious circle of more medication, less activity, unhappier behaviour. So when someone is increasingly active – whatever ‘active’ means for them – this can be an indicator that broadly, things are getting better for them.

Citizens. That’s an interesting word. It implies participating in society, being part of a community. It implies voting. Going to the pub. Shopping for oneself. Taking the bus. Working and paying taxes. In essence doing everything that a non-learning disabled or neurotypical person would do without thinking.

Good for me will be when someone supported by Dimensions is doing the same things as an unsupported person and can’t be distinguished as someone because they happen to have a learning disability.

So this summer, as we’re roaring on the competitors in both the Olympics and Paralympics, let’s also keep thinking about some fantastic stories about people we’re supporting who are becoming Active Citizens through working really hard so they can do some of things we do every day without a second thought.