The Saints Foundation hosted a day of social inclusion activities at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday.
Many of the Foundation’s various projects came together to take on a range of sports both on and off the pitch, including boxing, table-tennis and football, with participants from Saints4Sport, SaintsAbility and Senior Saints all involved.
It was a day for the Foundation to showcase its assorted classes, and, importantly, generate further awareness of the work that the football club’s charity arm does with the local community.
Halfway through the day a world record attempt also took place for the most people doing chair based exercise in a class, which was led in part, by Southampton FC mascot Sammy Saint.
A half hour of seated exercise in the Itchen stand saw all of the participants bid to break the record of 481 people working together.
Saints Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing Senior Project Officer, Paul Hedges said that the chance to break a record came about as an opportunity to couple the showcase of the day with the location of the event.
“We work with a lot of seniors in the city and we do a lot of seated exercise anyway, and when we were looking at a pitch event we were looking at doing something a little bit unique, so we thought one of the best things we can do is try and look at a world record,” he told youtube.com/southamptonfc
“We researched it a little bit and saw that the number of people for doing the most seated exercise was 481 which we thought is something we can maybe try and beat, which is why we’re here today to try and get as many people as possible to do the session.
“You have a fixed seated position while you exercise so you can use upper and lower body with band exercises which mobilises all the joints and gets a few muscles working while working.
“They will do some arm curls a bit like bicep curl but you’ve got a band there which is used as a bit of resistance to pull against.”
The day of highlighting the Foundation’s work also enabled the participants young and old to get out of the house to be part of something, which for many of them is not a regular occurrence.
“All of the work we do as a project is around working with people who are socially isolated and don’t get out of their homes very much,” Hedges explained.
“A lot of the classes we do it’s the only outlet that people actually have to talk to other people, so sometimes they’ll be sat in their homes or flats for days on end without talking to someone. We’re giving them an opportunity to actually come out and get involved in an exercise or a reminiscence group or an exercise class and general activity so that they’ve got someone else to talk to.
“We do some work with local schools and primary schools where we bring some of the pupils into the reminiscence groups so we’ve had primary school aged children chatting with people in their 60s and 70s who talk about what it was like when they were at school and the differences to what it’s like to be eight now as opposed to what it was like 60 years ago.
“The whole of the pitch events today are about showcasing the Foundation’s various projects,” he added.
“We had a multi-sports session on in the morning on the pitch with tennis and we had boxing taking place in a ring in one of the concourses. Our disability programme will also have the pitch to do a lot of the activities and we’ve got a men’s fitness group, which is a get-fit programme for men over 35 with waist measurement of over 38 inches, and there’s a game on the pitch which they’re going to get involved in too.
“We’re just trying to show what we do because so many people don’t really know what it is, they think we’re balls, cones and goals but actually the Foundation is much wider than that, we work with a lot of other different people.”
Jean Bennett is a regular at the classes laid on by Hedges and Marion Gealer at the club, and says that the physical strength building she’s been doing over the past year or so was made easier by the work of the Foundation staff.
“It’s such good fun and they make it good fun. I’ve got carers and I told them about this and they want to join in on this now, so we’re spreading the word.
“I wouldn’t get out at all otherwise. I’m much stronger now than I was when I started because I wasn’t weight-bearing properly, but Paul and Marion have got me standing up and out of my chair.
“They’ve got me going and they keep me going too.”
To find out more about the work of the Saints Foundation or to join one of their activity groups, visit: saintsfoundation.co.uk