With the suspension of Sporting Memories community clubs for older people in Wales due to the COVID-19 pandemic – including the one held at Rodney Parade with conjunction with Dragons Community - the Sporting Memories Foundation is encouraging everyone, no matter where they are, to talk about sport.
Dragons Community teamed up with Sporting Memories Wales to use the power of sport to engage local people living with dementia, depression or are socially isolated earlier this year.
Sporting Memories Wales work with communities and organisations to promote the mental and physical wellbeing of people over 50.
Weekly volunteer-led clubs take place at stadiums, clubs, care-centres, community centres and libraries, using archive images of sport, memorabilia and news reports to trigger fond memories of playing or watching sport.
As well as reminiscing about sport and allowing group members to tell their stories through sporting memories, the clubs include exercise and the playing of accessible sports to increase physical activity levels of beneficiaries.
New friendships are formed with members gaining confidence to meet new friends and make meaningful connections not just within the clubs but in the wider community too.
Unfortunately, the weekly sessions at Rodney Parade – also held in association with County in the Community – are currently postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Sporting Memories co-founder Chris Wilkins, has revealed how people can still use the clubs with online and via a new campaign.
He said: “We all know someone who loves to talk about sport. Talking about sport is the bedrock of our community Clubs for older people. It’s a powerful, emotive and often joyous topic that engages people on all levels. We use sport to tackle social isolation and improve physical and cognitive well-being and resilience.
“Now that so many of us are isolated from our loved ones and friends, we want to encourage as many people as possible to talk about sport.
"To engage by whatever means they can with their family and friends of all ages, spark lively conversations and bring to the fore all those positive memories. That’s why we have launched a new campaign: #TalkAboutSport. We want to demonstrate to as many people as possible the health, wellbeing and social benefits of talking about sport.”
Sporting Memories is developing resources and activities that can be used at home, online or over the telephone.
With quizzes, puzzles, a weekly sports publication, a weekly online magazine programme and video guidance already made available, there is plenty more to follow.
The organisation’s staff and volunteers are working hard to turn their ideas into reality.
Chris added: “Some of these resources are already used in our Clubs, others will be brand new. Of course there are challenges: many of those we work with have limited options to access activities online. However, this is where we hope a wider #TalkAboutSport message can help.
"By highlighting that sport is a wonderful way of sparking conversation and by providing guidance and resources to go alongside this, people will find ways to engage. We will give people a taste of what happens at our Clubs and show them how to bring this into the home and over the telephone.”
Sporting Memories is also encouraging people to sign up on its website to a new, free digital version of the Sporting Pink – a weekly publication produced by the organisation.
Usually only available to its Clubs, the Foundation hopes that by making it more widely available, families and friends will use it with older people to spark sporting conversations.
“We have set up an Activities area on our website, www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com, and will be adding to this and our other online channels over the coming days and weeks.”
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Now that so many of us are isolated from our loved ones and friends, we want to encourage as many people as possible to talk about sport...