PMA programme that provides free fitness industry training for people with mental health conditions has been recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron with a Big Society Award.

The InstructAbility programme offers participants the chance to gain a Level 2 gym instructor qualification and gives support to find employment within the fitness industry.

Over 40% of graduates have gone on to get jobs as fitness professionals where they work to encourage more disabled people to get active, making them feel welcome in gyms and sports clubs.

Successful graduates of the programme include individuals with post-traumatic stress and depression along with physical disabilities such as limb loss and cerebral palsy.

Inspire others to get active
After making the award last week [29 Aug] the Prime Minister said: "This time last year we were celebrating the start of the greatest Paralympic Games ever. Today I’m delighted to be recognising the work of a programme which is doing so much to secure the games’ lasting legacy.

"InstructAbility is encouraging more talented people with a disability to work in the fitness industry and creating the role models that will inspire others to get active."

InstructAbility was set up by Aspire, a leading national charity supporting people with spinal cord injuries and YMCAfit, the leading fitness industry training provider.

Since the first pilot course in September 2010:
• 54 disabled people have qualified as gym instructors, with a further 10 currently in training
• 29 instructors have so far completed industry placements
• 14 instructors have been offered employment
• Six courses have been launched this year with a further thirty courses scheduled across England following an £854,000 grant from Sport England.

Brian Carlin, Chief Executive of Aspire said: “We hope this award will raise the profile of the project and encourage more disabled people to take up opportunities to get involved either as gym users or as instructors. We firmly believe that the way to ensure society becomes more inclusive is to ensure there is equality in service delivery as well as service use”.