The initiative has been set up by Mencap Sport, Special Olympics GB and BADMINTON England to create more opportunities for people with a learning disability to participate in badminton.

Herald, who took part in Friday’s session, has a learning disability and is a member of Haringey Mencap. He said:

I have played badminton before but not for many years. When I heard about the sessions I was interested straight away. It's a good session because it gives me the chance to play badminton and build my skills.

Mencap Sport, Special Olympics GB and BADMINTON England have worked together to develop a one-year action plan to get people with a learning disability more involved in playing badminton – both recreationally and competitively.

The pilot project, which was launched on Friday, will run for eight weeks, with discussions already in progress to offer regular participation opportunities after the project.

Andy Heffer, Director of Sports and Development for Special Olympics GB said:

We're very excited by the start of this new project. We know that a lot of people with a learning disability play badminton recreationally, but relatively few make the transition into coaching and competition and this new partnership will help to address this.

Ian Carpenter, National Sport Manager for Mencap said:

It's fantastic to see that through our positive partnership with BADMINTON England, people with a learning disability are getting the opportunity to have a go at badminton. Our ongoing work means people with a learning disability will be able to play badminton on a regular basis and also have the opportunity to play competitively.

What’s more, our Learning Disability Awareness in Sport workshops will enable coaches and volunteers from local badminton clubs to develop their knowledge and skills.

Sandy Kurek, Project Manager for BADMINTON England said:

The fantastic link that has now been created between Black Arrows Badminton Club and Haringey Mencap has been produced through the ongoing partnership work and support of Mencap Sport and Special Olympics GB, and the willingness of Black Arrows to develop Inclusive badminton opportunities across London.

Working on an action plan with Mencap Sport and Special Olympics GB, we were able to work towards a common goal, and provide expertise and knowledge where necessary, offer participants interested in badminton a chance to try the game and a pathway into a BADMINTON England ‘Premier’ Clubmark club.

Henry, Head Coach at Black Arrows Badminton Club said:

Black Arrows Badminton Club, a BADMINTON England "Club Mark" club, has a long history of successful badminton development in London, working in partnership with BADMINTON England, Arsenal Football club and a number of local authorities and other partners.

As a club we have been actively involved in promoting, encouraging and delivering badminton playing opportunities for disabled people, working in close partnership with the Elfrida Society for the past three years. Our programme is expanding and this new pilot project with Mencap Haringey will create another local venue in North London, where local disabled people can get to play the sport of badminton, learn new skills, have fun, and make new friends in a safe fun environment. We are hoping that this session can be established as an ongoing club session which is much needed in Haringey.

For more information or to get involved in an upcoming session in Haringey, please contact Melanie Lampert, Learning Disability Sport Advisor for Mencap Sport and Special Olympics GB:

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For more information or interview opportunities, please get in touch with the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk.

Notes to editors

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.

About Special Olympics GB

Special Olympics Great Britain was established in 1978 as part of Special Olympics Inc. Special Olympics GB is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. Through 150 clubs in England, Scotland and Wales, we provide training and competition programmes in 26 sports.

We are a recognised member of the Olympic family with a unique role to play.

The Paralympics provides sports competitions for elite level disabled athletes with physical and sensory disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, while Special Olympics fosters community sport year-round at all levels for those with intellectual disabilities.

Since our formation in 1978 as part of the global Special Olympics Movement, Special Olympics Great Britain has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people through sport. There are currently 150 Special Olympics clubs in Great Britain, run by over 4,000 volunteers, and involving 8,000 athletes who benefit from our sports programme.

www.specialolympicsgb.org.uk

About BADMINTON England

BADMINTON England is the National Governing Body for badminton in England, dedicated to promoting the sport of badminton by enabling more people to play badminton and giving those with talent the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Based at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes, BADMINTON England is also home to the GB Performance Programme, which has the aim of consistently achieving medals at World and Olympic level.

BADMINTON England works hard to be the most knowledgeable badminton resource in this country, focused on increasing opportunities to play across all levels of abilities, running coaching courses, managing and hosting tournaments from county to international standard and working with a range of partners, funders and sponsors to achieve our aims.

www.badmintonengland.co.uk