From improving mental well-being to tackling social isolation, table tennis is the perfect tool to provide an inclusive activity within your community. We spoke to Baildon Methodist Church, who used table tennis to engage with their local community with great success.
It was a member of the congregation who first suggested table tennis as an activity for the church, not just to increase income, but to engage with the further community in the parish of Shipley, Bradford. The sessions began as two hour sessions once a week, and word quickly spread. The sessions attracted a wide range of abilities and ages, ranging from 12 to 87. Within a year, an additional session was established to cope with the demand and a community was born.
Jane, who holds duty within the church, told us of their successes:
Firm friendships have been formed spilling out into table tennis elsewhere and on numerous occasions, small groups who met through our table tennis sessions going off on holiday together.
The community in Shipley have engaged with the church, despite many members being of other faiths, and those of no faith. The sessions have provided a safe space for individuals to seek support, meet new people, and get active whilst having fun.
We have helped individuals who have had difficulties which we have supported them through. The great advantage of table tennis is that all ages can play, we have seen older people attend and in several months we have noticed an improvement in balance, agility, alertness, outlook and general fitness. We provide companionship and loads of fun for those who live alone.
Jane stresses that the sessions at the church are very much a team effort of church members, other faiths and non-believers, who have actively got involved in their community.
Some of our other faiths and non-believers have attended other church activities. Additionally, the table tennis money and knock on to other events/activities helps us pay the bills and provide charitable support elsewhere. Apart from the financial benefits to the Church we have also been able to offer Christian fellowship to individuals who have faced a difficult situation in their lives or just simply needed companionship. This Christian support was only possible because of table tennis as it brought other faiths and non-believers into our church.
As Jane has experienced, table tennis can be a great tool for improving mental wellbeing, and providing a space for people to connect and share. Just 10 minutes of physical activity has been proven to increase mental alertness, positive mood and energy, reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Table tennis has the unique benefits of being a fully inclusive activity, regardless of your age, background, abilities or disabilities. But most importantly, it’s a fun way to get active without needing a change of clothes, specialist equipment or any history of playing; just grab a bat and have a go!
Here’s how table tennis can improve your mental well-being (click image below to expand) ….
Loop in the Community is a subsidised table grant scheme programme, available to community groups, community venues and more.
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