Leading figures in sport and disability came together at the event to recognise the achievements of the Community Down’s Syndrome Tennis Project and to highlight the wider benefits that result from such initiatives and successful partnerships.
The Community Down’s Syndrome Tennis project, the first of its kind nationally, began in January 2010 following the success of the Fulham FC Foundation’s DSActive Down’s syndrome football team. Working in partnership, the Down’s Syndrome Association, Fulham Football Club Foundation and the Tennis Foundation created the tennis programme for young people with Down’s syndrome.
The event, which was facilitated and organised by the Houses of Parliament's Outreach Service, included a panel discussion introduced by Mr Whittingdale and led by Mr Inverdale.
On the panel were representatives from each of the partner organisations; Sue Prisk, the parent of a child tennis player; Professor Tony Holland, Foundation Chair in learning Disabilities and Developmental Psychiatry at Cambridge University and Dan Ellerton, one of the tennis coaches.
The Speaker, the Rt. Hon John Bercow, said:
"I am delighted to be able to welcome to the House of Commons three charities that are doing such excellent work through a coaching project involving a sport very dear to my own heart. The Community Down’s Syndrome Tennis Project shows what can be achieved by the sharing of resources and expertise in terms of helping the young people taking part grow in confidence and ability.
"Sport by its very nature brings people together and a seminar like this, which draws together Parliamentarians and leading figures from the world of sport and charity, can only inspire further positive action and understanding. I hope too that this event highlights just how keen MPs and parliamentarians are to engage with best practice wherever it occurs."
John Whittingdale, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said:
"I am delighted to be involved in the Speaker’s Seminar Celebrating Inclusion through Sport. As Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, I am keenly aware of the huge contribution of people with disabilities make to sport in this country and the benefits that they obtain from participation as highlighted through this excellent programme."
Professor Tony Holland said:
"Sports programme that bring together both physical and social development are an essential component in creating a skill set that will enrich the lives of people with Down’s syndrome and their families."
Sue Prisk said:
"My son Thomas has benefited on so many levels, with improvements, in eye contact and self-awareness. Having a weekly activity to look forward to, packed with fun and friendships has allowed Thomas’s self confidence to grow."
The Houses of Parliament's Outreach Service spreads awareness of the work, processes and relevance of the institution of Parliament, encouraging greater engagement between the public and the House of Commons and House of Lords.
The work of the Outreach Service includes:
- delivering free training explaining the work of Parliament
- promoting engagement with Select Committee inquiries
- showing how the public can get involved with legislative scrutiny
- demonstrating Parliament's relevance to each part of the UK
Image: Tennis Foundation