The Special Olympics Movement is the ‘third arm’ of the Olympics organisation, along with the Olympics and Paralympics, and is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with a learning disability through training and competition in numerous sporting disciplines, in both summer and winter sports.
The club was founded in March 2019 after Special Olympic athlete James Wyatt had returned from a very successful World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.
James was determined to help young people like himself to develop their sporting talents, and at the same time wanted to give something back to the community.
As there was no Special Olympics badminton Club in Derbyshire, James decided it was time to set one up. Both James and his father Anthony obtained their coaching badges, and the club meets on a weekly basis at the Derby Arena and Springwood Leisure Centre.
James, as the head coach, is hopeful that at some point in the future another young person like himself will have the opportunity to represent Great Britain on the world stage.
There are many reasons - some are detailed below.
There are limited opportunities at a local level for young people with learning disabilities to take part in sport and physical activities and as a consequence, this can create a number of problems associated with inactivity such as higher rates of obesity.
Evidence shows that many clubs are reluctant to provide opportunities for participants who have a learning disability as they do not have the experience or knowledge of dealing with anyone other than mainstream students.
The majority of coaching courses do not cover the issues associated with learning disabilities whilst many generic disability courses give little more than a passing mention to this topic.
Many recognised coaching courses are purely performance based and omit the subject entirely.
As a club, we are in a unique position, as our coach James was diagnosed as a young child with a learning disability himself - although this would be difficult to recognise now..
We feel that he has an advantage over some coaches because he can relate to many of the problems that come with a learning disability and turn these into positive outcomes and experiences for club members.
Over time, he has managed to overcome many of his problems and develop into a responsible young adult, an Athlete Representative, and an Ambassador for Special Olympics Great Britain.
It is also often more difficult to get information about sport to people with a learning disability because of relatively low levels of media exposure and a lack of positive role models.
With this specifically in mind, James spends a great deal of time visiting special schools throughout Derbyshire and delivering presentations to the students, which is another area where the Club has been able to assist in raising awareness, in a positive manner.
James's father Anthony who is also involved on the Coaching side is able to identify with most of the difficulties experienced by parents and students alike and is always available to assist as required.
As well as providing an opportunity to keep fit, train and compete with other similar clubs, we also believe that membership of the club should be a fulfilling and fun experience, and an opportunity to make friends and, develop social circles with members from other clubs as well as their own.