Stroke survivor is all smiles over charity’s sports sessions

Participants during one of the sessions.
Participants during one of the sessions.
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A stroke survivor has praised an activity programme aimed at getting people more active.

The Stroke Association in South Tyneside has teamed up with SMILE Through Sport to help local stroke survivors get more active.

The association runs a Family and Carer Support Service and Community Integration Service across South Tyneside and as part of the local services, and organised eight fortnightly sessions with SMILE Through Sport, in February and March at Temple Park Community Centre.

Up to 20 stroke survivors could enjoy accessible sporting activities and pursuits including Boccia, new age curling, table top cricket, athletics and foam javelin throwing.

Mark O’Connell, 53, from Bolden Colliery had a stroke in 2012, and after being supported by the Stroke Association’s Community Integration Service he was introduced to the SMILE Through Sport.

He said: “After a stroke, you can tend to withdraw yourself from social activity. The SMILE Through Sport sessions helped me to get out of the house and be more active. They also helped me to focus my mind. It was great to be around people who are in the same boat as me.”

Nigel Rickaby, family and carer support coordinator at the Stroke Association, said: “The SMILE Through Sport sessions provided an opportunity for stroke survivors to meet others who are also experiencing a life after stroke, benefit from exercise, build their confidence, lift their mood and enjoy learning new skills.”

For more information about the support available in South Tyneside, ring the Helpline on 0303 3033100 or visit