Swallows of Helston Gymnastics Club has become the first Makaton Friendly sports facility in Cornwall thanks to support from British Gymnastics.
Makaton is an assisted sign language which uses signs and symbols to support the spoken word, first introduced in the 1980’s.
As part of a 12-month project to make their club and their gymnastics offering more inclusive, staff from Swallows of Helston have undergone Makaton training whilst the gym has undergone major refurbishment, installing a new 90m3 foam pit and a sunken trampoline.
The gym development took place over the summer thanks to fundraising efforts from the club’s members and the generosity of local companies. During this time, three of the club’s coaches, Alice, Nikki and Lauryn, completed their Makaton Foundation course, thanks to funding from British Gymnastics, giving them the skills and knowledge to carry out gymnastics classes to participants who cannot communicate efficiently by speaking.
The club marked the occasion with an open day on Saturday 26th October, inviting the community to look at their new facilities and celebrate the club’s new status as a Makaton Friendly venue.
Nikki Heaney, Swallows and Helston’s inclusivity team lead said; "Makaton is something that I have felt passionate about bringing to the club and I am delighted that we have managed to achieve this status.
"I can already see the benefit to our members who use Makaton to assist their communication within their classes.
"We couldn’t have moved forward on this without the support and guidance from British Gymnastics who helped organise the financial support and link us with Talk More Cornwall [Makaton training provider].”
The club was joined on the day by British Gymnastics Inclusion Officer, Kimberley Wright who took part in activities with children from the community.
To find out how you and your club can develop its inclusive gymnastics programme, contact our Inclusion team via: [email protected]