Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Physical activity for people with disabilities and impairments

  • Do you have a disability?
  • Are you looking to get active through sport or physical activity?

Then the Heath Disability Activity Pathway is the place for you.  

Swimming with a disability

What is the Health Disability Activity Pathway?

This is a Wales-wide initiative to support disabled people to become more physically active. It is a simple pathway which is easy to access and is easy for health care professionals to signpost disabled people to sporting opportunities and physical activities in the local community.

Who is it for?

This is for anyone – adults and children of all ages – with disabilities and impairments.

Watch how getting involved in cricket has benefitted Matthew in multiple ways.


James has always been involved in sport and was an active football coach with junior teams in Abergele and Colwyn Bay, also leading Blessed Edward Jones High School to the Ifor Tuck Trophy in 1977.

Due to James’ involvement within local football, that also saw his eldest son Bruce play against for Bangor City against Atlético Madrid in the Cup Winners’ Cup, he took up golf late in 2008 but soon fell in love with the sport and soon enough won the Professional’s Tournament at North Wales Golf Club.

James was fortunate enough to be elected as Men’s Captain in 2013 but a week into his captaincy had a stroke whilst on the course after hitting just one shot on the first tee. James was taken to Llandudno Hospital by the club professional and was there transferred to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. Although James was scheduled to be sent home the next day he had a further stroke whilst in hospital that left his left side paralysed.

“I was devastated. I thought my golf days were over as I couldn’t even sit up.” After five or so months James started moving his limbs under the helpful guidance of his physiotherapist, Leigh Campbell, and with a splint fitted for his leg he started playing golf on the Wii. After seeing James’ eyes light up playing golf on the Wii Leigh suggested getting in touch with the local Disability Sport Wales Development Officer through the partnership set up between DSW and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

“Meeting Mark, Conwy’s Disability Sport Wales Officer, gave me a glimmer of hope and I told everybody about it. Before that I was so despondent that I wouldn’t be able to play golf again that I gave away my putter.

“What hurts me is that I overlook a golf course in my living room – it’s bitter sweet but Disability Sport Wales have given me the hope to one day be a part of that view again. I was given the option of different sports but I wanted to try golf as it’s my passion. It may take a long time but I will get there. It’s given me an achievable goal, not an unrealistic one, as lying in my hospital bed sport seemed a million miles away.”

Mark kept in touch and worked with Golf Development Wales and Conwy Golf Club to set up an inclusive golf event.

“Before that I was very nervous and wondered whether I should go through with it but I’m so glad I did. Kim and Andy were very supportive and Kim even talked to me about adapting my grip to assist. Everybody was so supportive and didn’t see the disability, just the sport, and I wanted to be a part of that. Andy’s expertise was helpful and I went back home on a high – just being on a golf course again was nice.

“Golf has given me my life back. It has kick started me and made me more determined to do my rehab and if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be able to stand up. When I was doing rehab I used to count how long I could stand and would get excited if I made 30 seconds – now I can stand for 10 minutes and DSW’s programmes have given me the motivation to do more. If DSW hadn’t set this up I’d just be sat in my chair but now I’ve even taken to using my walking stick as a golf club to practice! 

“My wife commented that I’m even dressing like a golfer again. I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt for the first time in months and I sit here every day working my hand knowing that it will help my golf grip and improve my hand even more. My goal is now not just to get into golf but into competitive golf against non-disabled people.”

Matthew swimming

Matthew was signposted to Disability Swimming and Brickfield Rangers Football Club by Wrexham’s Disability Sport Wales Development Officer.

Matthew has been diagnosed with Specific Language Impairment and is currently under assessment for ADHD, Autism, and Sensory Processing Disorder.

Lynn, Matthew’s mum, was keen for him to start swimming as water safety is a life skill, and Matthew chose to play football.

Matthew initially started in one-to-one swimming sessions and after six weeks he moved to group sessions in Wrexham’s Under 8‘s.

Matthew has been scared of water since he was two years old, and within the first six weeks of swimming sessions he went from not leaving the changing rooms and sitting on the side of the pool to jumping in and swimming widths of the pool on his own with a woggle.

Lynn is so proud of Matthew’s achievements. “There are no words to describe how proud I feel about Matthew when he is in the water; from where he started, he screamed and cried and clung on to me for dear life and he was so upset, to now where he can walk along poolside by himself, jump in the water by himself, go underwater and not freak out, and kick his legs and swim is unbelievable!”.

Rob, Matthew’s Dad, hadn’t seen him swim since he was terrified of water, and Matthew was very happy to show Dad his new confidence in the water. He can’t wait to go swimming in different places now, and Lynn and Rob are hoping to take Matthew to a different pool so he can go swimming with family over summer.

Matthew loves football; ‘Football is my favourite [sport]’. Rob takes Matthew to Brickfield Rangers Football Club every Thursday to their disability specific junior session.

Rob said: “The coaches are great with Matthew, they adapt the session to meet Matthew’s needs, and they let him score a goal.”  Matthew has made friends in the session and they high five him when he scores.

Matthew says, “I enjoy kicking the ball and scoring goals”.

Brickfield Rangers is a great environment for Matthew and although it took him a while to get used to football, he now loves it!

Lynn and Rob have seen a huge difference in Matthew’s ability, confidence and enjoyment of sport. Leanne, Wrexham’s Disability Sport Wales Development Officer, says, “I have been there since day one when Matthew started swimming and he has significantly progressed over the last 15 weeks. He has a new-found confidence in the water and now he really enjoys swimming.”

Lynn is very pleased with the support Matthew has received from not only the coaches and swimming instructor, but from Leanne too, she says
“I thought it was brilliant as she actually understood where we came from with Matthew and what we were going through. She helped a lot and if it wasn’t for Leanne giving us the sessions then Matthew wouldn‘t be where he is at the moment with swimming and football”.

“Matthew is very active and always on the go, and we have tried sports clubs in the past but he couldn’t last long enough to concentrate and listen due to his disabilities and the coaches couldn’t understand him. But now with swimming and football he has come out of his shell and he is enjoying and learning all about it. His face lights up when he accomplishes something new.”

How to access this service

There are two ways in which you can access this service:

Get a health care professional to sign you up

If you are in regular contact with a health care professional and have an interest in being physically active, it is possible for your clinician to directly signpost you in to the Health Disability Activity Pathway. They may also suggest this pathway to support your ongoing clinical interventions. 

Sign yourself up

Self-referral – If you have a diagnosed disability and are interested in getting involved in sport and physical activity, you can sign up to the Health Disability Activity Pathway using the button below or by scanning the QR code.

QR code for Health Disability Activity Pathway

One of our Health Disability Activity Practitioners will then get in touch and help you to complete a signpost form into the pathway. 

Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Help us improve Keeping Me Well!

We’re currently working to improve the Keeping Me Well website. If you’d like to help us make this site a better, more helpful experience for you, please take a few minutes to let us know what improvements you’d like to see.

Skip to content