Global Relief Initiative are pleased to announce a brand new partnership with the Tiger Cubs; a scheme operating as part of QPR in the Community Trust. QPR in the Community focuses on creating progressive, vibrant hubs of sporting and social activities, leading to enhanced life experiences. The aim is to use the power of the Football Club to forge stronger and deeper connections with its community.
The Tiger Cubs provide children and young people with Down Syndrome the same benefits of being on a team as their able-bodied peers. Through football, the project aims to create a multi-tier learning environment that will improve the participants’ overall physical, social and emotional health. The project runs weekly, and is open to people of all ages
The Tiger Cubs consist of 2 separate groups each who involve 20 to 30 young people who have Down Syndrome. These children are given the opportunity away from school, to interact with adults other than their parents along with other people with Downs Syndrome. Each session focuses on the developing the core fundamentals of football while simultaneously improving physical, social and emotional abilities.
On formation of the Tiger Cubs in 2008, the Downs Syndrome Association (DSA) played a key role in helping this project work successfully. The DSA is the only organisation in the UK that is solely dedicated to helping those live successfully with Downs Syndrome with an aim of helping people with DS live full and rewarding lives.
The DSA works closely with the Tiger Cubs with the intention of providing a network where families or children with DS all around the UK are accessible to a deeper understanding and research on DS; a means to which those in and around the QPR area were first able to be approached concerning the scheme.
There are several ways in which the Tiger Cubs aim to enhance the experience of each individual, physically, socially and emotionally;
Coaching people with Downs Syndrome requires a patient approach while keeping motivation and interest levels high. A predominantly low attention span means that staff must be skilled at conveying the correct message.
Muscular strength is positively related to physical functioning, and this is especially true with individuals with Downs Syndrome. Those with DS predominantly have lower levels of muscular strength compared to their peers with learning disabilities. Higher levels of muscular strength may improve health profiles through the beneficial effects of football training.
If health is compromised due to inactivity then independence will be limited. Opportunities for people with DS to participate at a sporting level are limited, so the QPR Tiger Cubs is a great example of how they can combat this predicament from an early age. Self-determination is an important feature of becoming an integrated member of society. If this can be influenced by their health and thus through physical exercise; in this case football training, then this is a positive outcome for well bring of the members. In a study carried out in 2005, extreme obesity was four times higher in adults with DS compared to the general population, proving that the importance of physical activity can not be over looked.
The ratio of physical activity and Downs Syndrome is one that needs to be carefully balanced. Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure. The Tiger Cubs provide a good balance between the two and this is achieved by making sure that coaching sessions are a mix of moderate and vigorous activity.
Fitness is a set of attributes related to the ability to perform physical activity. People with Down’s Syndrome have on average a lower intake of Oxygen, due to their lung formation and capacity, which in turn means training sessions need to be planned with the intention of keeping the individuals active but not burned out. Most importantly individuals need to be kept motivated and thus interested – something that the Tiger Cubs work hard to achieve.