Sports and activities


We have been supporting Panathlon’s sports programme for deaf children since 2014. The sports charity began with a boccia tournament which, following a successful pilot in the London area, was then rolled out to deaf children in the Midlands, the North West, the North East and East England. The sports programme has expanded and now tennis, football, swimming and ten-pin bowling are also offered.

‘The backing of OHF has been instrumental to the rapid growth of events and participation numbers,’ said Tony Waymouth of Panathlon.

In 2020, we became an official Panathlon partner, with our grant supporting a record 30 competitions for deaf children. ‘We are extremely grateful to OHF for funding our deaf programme and continuing our partnerships into its eighth year and beyond,’ said Tony. ‘Our deaf events have positively impacted over 1,500 young people in the last year alone, giving them a vital platform to fulfil their potential and thrive in an environment where they feel safe and supported. This would not have been possible without OHF’s support.’

During 2021, Panathlon gave schools on its deaf programme a big morale boost during lockdown by introducing pupils to three inspiring sporting role models. They organised for England Rugby Sevens player Jodie Ounsley, England deaf cricket international James Dixon and Deaf Tennis Men’s Singles National Champion Esah Hayat to take part in online Questions and Answers with enraptured students by Zoom. Find out more.

Since spring 2021, Panathlon has begun to hold in-person events for deaf children and young people including a tennis tournament for 19 pupils from a school in London, a football event involving 43 pupils from three schools in Merseyside and ten-pin bowling involving pupils from Doncaster, Bolton, Newcastle, Essex and London.

Our grant in 2022-2023 has supported a range of sporting opportunities for deaf children and young people, including cricket, swimming and New Age Kurling. A P.E. Co-ordinator whose school won a Panathlon swimming gala at the London Aquatics Centre in March 2023 said, ‘Every student who wants to compete, can! Panathlon is about celebrating the individual progress, effort and achievement of all those involved. It’s a perfect mix of ability and inclusion.’  

England Deaf Cricket International player James Dixon has recently joined Panathlon, organising activities in North West England. ‘It’s been great to work with schools in the North West through Panathlon and see the pupils develop in confidence, and learn that you can break down barriers,’ he said. ‘When I give out medals and certificates, I can see the difference it makes to those pupils and it’s wonderful.’  

We are supporting two fantastic projects to bring deaf children and young people together in London:

Remark! Community runs a weekly youth club in North London. Our grant has supported the appointment of a new co-ordinator to lead activities. Recent highlights have included a cookery workshop led by a professional chef in a commercial kitchen, and a tour of Dulwich Picture Gallery from a local Deaf historian. ‘The club has given the opportunity to many Deaf young people within London, to come together, build their social skills, make new friends and feel like they belong within a community,’ said Trustee and founder Jonny.

We have also helped Remark!’s charity partner Deaf-SELF to deliver their summer play scheme in South East London. ‘Your support has gone a long way in allowing us to continue providing our Deaf play scheme, which has now been supporting Deaf children for the past 19 years,’ said Annie, Treasurer of Deaf-SELF.

Around 60 children and young people participate in the play scheme each summer, with activities including football, arts and crafts, and day trips to the seaside. OHF’s support at a critical time has helped Deaf-SELF not only to continue its service, but also to secure match funding from another grantmaker.

We are also supporting a grassroots community group for deaf children and their families in Walsall:

Funky Kids offers its 380 members a range of activities designed to reduce social isolation. These include a deaf baby and toddler group, a youth club, a football club, weekly coffee mornings, monthly themed events, and special events such as a Mother’s Day afternoon tea and a prom for teenagers. There have also been days out to Dudley Zoo and the seaside at Llandudno and Barmouth. In addition to social activities, Funky Kids offers wider support to families, such as sharing donated clothes and toys, providing children’s lunches and offering reduced-price refreshments. They provide a warm, welcoming environment, including a new nursery, and a sensory garden with a sandpit, vegetable garden, sensory walls and a barefoot walk.

‘This has been a fantastic opportunity for families to socialise and gain support from us and one another and also to share experiences,’ said Simone, manager and founder. ‘It has been lovely to see how the group has grown and developed and how they have built great friendship groups.’

‘Events are fantastic with a wide range of activities available for all,’ said one of Funky Kids’ volunteers, ‘I am so happy to be a part of such a wonderful team that goes above and beyond to help these families.’

We have helped Deafness Support Network to deliver Youth Vibe, their group for deaf children and young people in the Cheshire area. Our  grant supported the Youth Vibe Activity timetable for 8-19 years, plus the provision of opportunities for their Young Leaders, aged 13-25 years, to volunteer within these sessions. The aim of the group is to reduce isolation, improve independence and increase accessibility.

DSN successfully adapted their offering during the pandemic. Between April 2021 and January 2022, they delivered 22 sessions. These were predominantly online until June 2021 when face-to-face sessions began to resume. DSN have remained committed to providing a youth offer and ensuring that young people received support during the pandemic.

In March 2022, OHF’s grants advisor attended a Youth Vibe meeting. The session included a celebration of International Women’s Day, with a guest speaker who is a Deaf business owner, pancake making and designing banners for the British Sign Language rally in February 2022.

In March 2022, Trustees agreed further funding for DSN’s Youth Vibe service.

We have supported a project at Toy Like Me, an arts and play not-for-profit working to inspire positive representation of disability among children, their families and teachers, and the toy industry. See It Be It is an interactive exhibition celebrating the wide variety of jobs held by D/deaf adults. OHF has funded six exhibition packs, containing display panels and activity materials, which have been shared with schools. Children use tokens to select their favourite jobs, and also create and add images of their own dream jobs. ‘I learnt deaf people can do lots of jobs,’ said one young person. ‘I feel excited to try lots of opportunities.’ We look forward to continuing to work with Toy Like Me in 2023-24.

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We supported The Ear Foundation’s activities holidays for deaf young people from 2016-2019, funding places for those who would otherwise have struggled to attend.

The breaks in the Derbyshire countryside brought young people together for five days of stream scrambling, canoeing, caving, and on the last night, a talent show. Many of the participants had limited contact with their deaf peers so the holidays provided a much-needed opportunity to mix and make friends. ‘The best holiday ever!’ said one young person.

We also contributed toward The Ear Foundation’s first activities weekend for deaf children aged 8-13 years, 16 ‘Tweens’ took part in activities including canoeing, wall climbing and abseiling. ‘Thank you for the incredible experience you shared with our daughter,’ said one parent. ‘We are in awe of the feats she has faced (and climbed and jumped off!), and feel indebted to all of you for helping her to find her inner courage and confidence.’ 

We supported The Ear Foundation’s course for young deaf leaders, with participants going on to help lead the summer residential. ‘This has helped me become the person I want to be,’ said one young person on the leadership course. ‘It has been so inspiring.’ In summer 2019, The Ear Foundation’s Speech and Language Therapist Clare made a video describing the impact of OHF’s support: Click here to view the video on You Tube.

Very sadly, The Ear Foundation closed in 2020. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of their inspiring work by supporting their activities holidays for deaf children and young people.