Physical activities

Sandwell hula-hooper makes physical activities inclusive and fun

Rachel Conlisk, who founded Bearwood-based Creative Active Lives CIC

In 2019, she founded Creative Active Lives CIC, a non-profit organization that provides entertainment and education sessions for people of all ages and abilities.

The activities are aimed at participants who might otherwise face barriers when accessing opportunities to improve their physical and mental well-being.

It all started when Rachel, who lives in Oldbury, discovered she had a talent for the hula-hoop and started traveling around the UK giving workshops and performances.

Rachel has been teaching hula hoop since 2013

Due to the demand for her classes, she started the social enterprise, Spinsonic Circus, in 2014, and taught sessions for adults and children with physical and learning disabilities before adding circus skills to her directory.

Since then Spinsonic Circus has run hula hoop and circus workshops for Sandwell Adult Social Care, Birmingham Disability Sport, Birmingham MIND, MENCAP, the Alzheimer’s Society, Aging Better in Birmingham and Beacon Center for the Blind and has hosted hundreds of private workshops with ages ranging from four to 84.

Seeing participants reap the benefits of the sessions, Rachel also saw a need for affordable and accessible activities that would enhance social interaction and physical and mental stimulation in care homes, activity groups and other areas. where the elderly faced isolation and loneliness.

This led her to launch Creative Active Lives CIC, bringing together talented instructors, performers and artists to deliver a set of interactive, engaging and, above all, fun activities that work for seated and mobile people of all ages and backgrounds. mixed abilities, including people with dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

They include juggling, dancing, art, seasonal crafts, music production, beat-boxing, rap and spoken word, boxing, fitness, photography, forestry school, poetry, parkour and balloon modeling.

The organization also offers activity sessions for corporate clients, schools, nursing homes and established dementia and disability activity groups, and runs SEND activity sessions and Dementia Friendly sessions at across the UK.

“Activities provide opportunities for creativity and self-expression. They contribute to both mental and physical health. They reduce social isolation and provide access to physical activities for people who dislike traditional activities like football and cricket. They also help build self-confidence and self-esteem,” says Rachel, who works at the Bearwood Community Hub.

Creative Active Lives is currently going from strength to strength and has rebounded from a tough time due to the pandemic.

“We’ve seen incredible growth as a company this year, after losing all of our work in 2020,” says Rachel.

“It allowed us to do a one-year internship at Hive College for young people with learning and physical disabilities, to help them develop their skills and transition into employment.

“We are also launching a free digital skills social cafe at the Bearwood Community Hub to help anyone who needs to access the internet, or help get online, stay safe online, apply for jobs, to create a resume, learn Word/Excel, get on social media to keep in touch with friends and family, etc.

“We are also continuing our online Minecraft and Dungeons and Dragons kids clubs, coding and game design classes for kids, with free places for local kids in need,” she told Weekend.

Rachel with her digital apprentice Steve James from Hive College

Rachel was recently named one of the UK’s most inspiring and dynamic female entrepreneurs by the f:Entrepreneur ‘#ialso100’ campaign to celebrate the multiple achievements of women running businesses today.

She is featured alongside 100 women entrepreneurs from across the country.

Ranging from quantum computing engineers and vegan fruit growers to sustainability advocates and inclusive fashion designers, this year’s campaign celebrates the women who have thrived despite the challenges of the past few years, many of whom are still growing or starting new businesses. new businesses.

“It’s a huge honor to be featured alongside such an inspiring group of businesswomen,” says Rachel.

Rachel has been named one of the UK’s most inspiring and dynamic female entrepreneurs by the f:Entrepreneur ‘#ialso100’ campaign

“He really means a lot to me. It’s hard trying to do everything as a single parent and start a business and you’re always comparing yourself to others.

“I get a lot of fulfillment from my work. I spend more time sitting at the computer, rather than being in the community, than I would like, but I enjoy supporting individuals and businesses and finding new activities that people have never tried before and make sure they are accessible to everyone,” she tells Weekend.

His advice to anyone considering taking the plunge and starting their own business is to go for it.

“Starting your own business can be a daunting idea, but for anyone who has an idea or is just getting started and thinks they can’t do it, yes you can.

“When I started my first business, I had no idea what I was doing. It was hard work but worth it. Research, read, seek help, and don’t give up. You have this,” she said.

For more information see creativeactivelives.org.uk and spinsonic.uk