wirral gymnasticsA new trampolining and gymnastics scheme for adults with autism has been launched by the Wirral Autistic Society (WAS) to encourage people to get involved in the sports.

A grant of £187,896 from Sports England's Inclusive Fund has allowed WAS to expand its day services programme to include the new sports on top of horse riding, rock climbing, swimming lessons and keep fit in the gym.

Community development activity manager, Neil Murphy, said: "This funding means a great deal to us and to our service users. After all our planning, we're thrilled that we are finally launching AutismAbility. Both our new sports are great fun and we want our service users to love their sessions but we'll also be encouraging them to work towards British Gymnastics Proficiency Awards, which will be a good way to boost their self-esteem."

WAS is one of 44 organisations across England to benefit from £8.06 million of National Lottery investment from Sport England to open up more opportunities for disabled people to play sport.

The funding has been used by WAS to recruit an activity leader and two coaches, develop disability coaching and purchase new equipment including 6 trampolines. Ten lessons a week will take place at The Drill sports centre on Grange Road West in Birkenhead.

Sport England’s director of insight, Lisa O’Keefe, said: "We are delighted to be able to help Wirral Autistic Society provide more opportunities for disabled people to give sport a go. Record numbers of disabled people now play sport and it’s thanks to projects like this that we can continue to improve opportunities and make a real difference in communities."

The number of disabled people playing sport regularly is on the rise, but non-disabled people are still twice as likely to play sport as disabled people (39.2% compared to 18.5%).

Pictured: from left (bottom row) Robin Bush, Chief Executive of Wirral Autistic Society, Alison McGovern, MP for Wirral South, and Mayor of Wirral Cllr Steve Foulkes celebrate the launch of Wirral Autistic Society’s new trampolining and gymnastics scheme, Autism Ability. Meanwhile, Sarah Madge, trampolining coach at The Drill sports centre in Birkenhead, demonstrates her skills.