World Deaf Golf Federation President, Simeon Hart from Liverpool, has been selected as an ambassador for nationwide campaign, Together We Will. The campaign aims to motivate deaf and disabled people and their families to get healthier and become more active.
Growing up Simeon, who was born deaf was inspired by his late father who was also deaf. A keen cyclist and badminton player, his father was passionate about keeping active and never allowed his impairment impact upon his life.
Simeon attended a school for the deaf, which gave him lots of opportunities to try his hand at a variety of sports in an accessible and inclusive environment. Here, his confidence and his passion for sport flourished and he soon fell in love with football and golf.
Once he left school, Simeon set his sights on pursuing a career as a professional footballer. However, he faced challenges at the trail stage because of his hearing impairment. Then after re-evaluating his goals, Simeon decided to call for change and has since dedicated his life to deaf rights, promoting accessible participation and doing all he can to help deaf and hard of hearing people in sport.
Simeon has continued to enjoy and find support through sport, refusing to let barriers prevent him from participating. As well as achieving a number of trophies and medals in football and athletics, Simeon is now a dab hand at golf and with a handicap of 20 he was recently elected as the President of the World Deaf Golf Federation.
Simeon is actively supporting the Together We Will campaign and UK Deaf Sport. To promote both the physical and mental benefits of being active for everyone and encourage deaf and disabled people to take part in sport and exercise.
Simeon Hart from Liverpool has been selected as an ambassador for a new nationwide campaign, Together We Will. The three month campaign – which is active until September – is encouraging and motivating deaf and disabled people, along with their friends and families, to become more active and promote positive physical and mental well-being.
Keeping active and healthy has always been a priority for Simeon and he has never let his hearing impairment hold him back.
Growing up, he attended Burwood Park School, a school for the deaf in Surrey. Attending the school meant that Simeon could develop a passion for sports amongst likeminded peers. This gave him confidence to try a range of activities without experiencing various barriers to communication. Barriers which can often knock confidence and self-esteem of deaf children taking part in mainstream schools.
In addition to good school support, Simeon and his family were involved with the British Deaf Sports Council (before UK Deaf Sport was established in 2003), who were able to offer support, advice and information about local activities and sporting events.
UK Deaf Sport is the National Disability Sports Organisation supporting deaf and hard of hearing people to participate and reach their full potential in sport. They support organisations and groups at all levels to develop participation opportunities for deaf people to take part in regular sport and exercise.
Simeon’s parents, who were also deaf, were keen to ensure that he didn’t experience barriers to being active growing up and encouraged him to maintain a healthy lifestyle. His late father was especially passionate about keeping active, allowing him to try his hand at any sport he liked – in the end he naturally gravitated towards football. When speaking about his younger years, Simeon said:
“My father was a great support growing up. He took me to different competitions, like badminton, football, athletics and tennis – he was my hero and role model. When he faced barriers in sport and employment he never let it stop him from achieving his goals – I learnt a lot from him.”
After leaving school, Simeon set his sights on pursuing a career as a professional footballer. He went for trials at Tottenham Hotspur and Woodford Town FC but faced challenges at both clubs due to his impairment.
However, like his father, he didn’t give up. Simeon called for change and has since dedicated his life to deaf rights, promoting accessible participation in sport and doing all he can to help the deaf community. After the initial setbacks, Simeon was successful at trials for Kiveton Park FC, where he joined the club, playing in the reserves team part-time.
With first-hand experience, Simeon fully understands the importance of promoting accessible sport and exercise opportunities for deaf and disabled people. So, he began working as a deaf instructor in schools across the country. Speaking of his time as a deaf instructor, Simeon, said:
“I saw PE teachers excluding deaf students all too often from physical activity, I had to regularly challenge teachers to include them, which I find staggering. It is so important that schools encourage deaf children to be involved in sports alongside hearing children. As equals.”
Firmly living by his inclusive mantra, Simeon has since turned his hand to golf. Now a member of England Deaf Golf and with a handicap of 20, Simeon tries to play a couple of times a week. He has competed in various competitions and was recently elected as the President of the World Deaf Golf Federation. However, as with football, his journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Speaking of his golfing passion, Simeon said:
“Although golf is an incredibly accessible sport for people with hearing disabilities, I have come across many communication barriers in my pursuit to play. At first I found it hard to communicate with hearing golfers during the round and especially at the 19th hole.
“But that didn’t stop me, nothing stops me. The enjoyment – socially, mentally and physically – is so great that I wouldn’t ever stop being active.
“Most crucially perhaps, activity allows us to learn from one another – both deaf and hearing.”
Simeon has instilled his passion for inclusive and accessible activity upon his family. Now a parent to two hearing boys, Zachary and Reuben, who play football with Woolton FC. Where they train and play matches a few times a week. Simeon said:
“They are hearing but I feel it’s incredibly important for them to learn how to be good at teamwork with people of all walks of life.”
Simeon’s dedication to the deaf community is unrivalled, he now teaches sign language classes and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, Liverpool Hope University and University of Chester. He also runs sign language interpreter training and works as a bank support worker for deaf people with mental health issues or illnesses.
Talking about the importance of being active for deaf and disabled people, Simeon said:
“If you’re lacking the confidence to get active, bring your friends or family along or join a club where you know someone, so that you feel more comfortable.
“I tend to find out about activities and sports through friends, but I would advise people to do a web search for National Disability Sports Organisations, like UK Deaf Sport, to see which accessible activities and clubs there are in your area – these organisations are brilliant at offering advice.
“Having a disability isn’t going to stop you from doing something you want to do. Nothing is impossible, just do it!”
Throughout the Together We Will campaign, there will be many more ambassador stories. Together, Simeon and his family are active.
To find out more about UK Deaf Sport and activities opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people please visit www.ukdeafsport.org.uk.
For more information about Together We Will and support on how to become more active, visit www.efds.co.uk/together.
UK Deaf Sport
UK Deaf Sport encourages people who are deaf and hard of hearing to participate, enjoy and excel at sport. For more information visit www.ukdeafsport.org.uk
English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS)
The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) exists to make active lives possible. To do this we enable organisations to support disabled individuals to be and stay active. Established in September 1998, EFDS has a vision that disabled people are active for life. www.efds.co.uk
National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs)
There are eight National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs) recognised by English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), who provide opportunities for people with specific impairments to take part in sport and physical activity, as well as offer advice and support. The NDSOs work together with EFDS and Sport England to support disabled people to be more active.
The eight NDSOs are UK Deaf Sport, British Blind Sport, Cerebral Palsy Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK, LimbPower, Mencap, Special Olympics Great Britain and WheelPower.
In October 2014, Sport England allocated new funding totalling £2.1 million, which will be used to help increase the number of disabled people playing sport. The funding will be allocated to the eight NDSOs over a three year period from October 2014 and 2017 and aid them in their work as they advise, support and guide other organisations sports bodies to create opportunities for disabled people to take part in sport.