Back in April we spoke to Peter Thompson at PingPong4U about plans to introduce Table Tennis to numerous disadvantaged groups. Well, four months on and PingPong4U has come a long way despite the enormous challenges thrown up by COVID19 and the Lockdown. In our latest blog Peter highlights challenges, successes and plans for the future…
What has PingPong4u done since COVID19 changed our world?
In mid-March lots of our face to face work (mainly with older, isolated and disabled people) came to a very abrupt end, when COVID 19 “arrived”. At first, we felt very uncertain about what to do and afraid…for everyone. Then we thought about how we could take the game to people – since we couldn’t physically be with them.
So we set about making small bags of good quality equipment (PingPong4u Starter bags) and applied for grants to make it possible for us to distribute to needy families. The idea soon took off thanks to generous grants from Sport England, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds City Council, JUMP Bradford and then a large order from Street Games (North East). In total we have distributed over 600 Starter bags since mid-March.
But, it didn’t feel enough to just assume people would know how to get the best out of the bags, so…
• We added a laminated card showing photos of how to set up 6 of our special Adapted Ping Pong Activities games
• Made videos of how to play the games, how to make them easier/ how to make them harder.
Then we really pushed the boat out, we really wanted to give people a fun experience and to forget about being in “Lockdown”, so we…
• Set up virtual ZOOM training sessions for group leaders so that local group coordinators and community leaders could see how to play a wide range of games, so they could then lead their own community virtual table tennis sessions.
• We held regular sessions (3 times a week) for young adults with learning difficulties – these were a real challenge, but immensely enjoyable and hugely rewarding.
• We also asked the top England players and coaches if they wouldn’t mind making a short video challenge that we could then upload each Monday on Twitter and on our brand new YouTube Ping Pong 4U. Lo and behold the videos came pouring in (and they still are doing).
• Probably the highlight to date was the ZOOM session where Jack Hunter- Spivey asked to join us! He was absolutely wonderful with our young adults with Learning Difficulties. Jack was amazing with the students who really appreciated him taking time out to be with them.
• It also feels amazing to think that we have now got young families playing with our PingPong4u starter bags on the 9th floor of blocks of flats, in peoples living rooms and in local parks.
• One mother gave us this feedback:
“Honestly, it’s been really great for the kids. We’ve even been doing some of the activities suggested in the pack. The kids have been enjoying the pack very much. We all have. My kids have been throwing a ball into a cup. And we’ve even used some old boxes. Cut holes inside. For balls to be thrown into. And one box inside to out. But mainly enjoying ping pong. Both in the house and inside. At the kids request! Thank you so very much! For the pack. It’s been a godsend honestly. My boys have special needs. And usually don’t take to things like this. They can find themselves getting frustrated. Before they start. They love this pack. We all do.”
So there we have it, from “What do we do now?” back in mid-March to reaching out to a whole new group of people who have never even picked up a bat before and who are REALLY loving their new sport.
What next, well…
We still have to keep applying for more grants to be able to afford to buy the equipment to make up more bags, we need to keep getting the word out there telling everyone what we can offer.
We are also very keen to link our “new” families and players with school play and welcoming clubs where they can go and develop their skills further.
Watch out for our new course showing people (staff, carers, anyone) how to play our vast range of Adapted Ping Pong Activities – either via ZOOM or safely face to face.
If want to know more about the work PingPong4U are doing please visit their website. They are currently looking to expand the offering/activities and would be delighted to talk to any TT fans who would like to get involved with training, promoting and/or sponsoring a programme of PingPong4U packs in their area of the UK! Please contact Peter on 07434 530134 or by email at Peter ThompsonPosted on 21st August 2020