A HEALTHY lifestyle centre in Shipley which runs pioneering exercise classes for deaf people is appealing for public votes in a bid to win a national award.
The Shipley and Saltaire Wellness Centre has been shortlisted in the final four of the Community Spirit category in the 2014 Signature Annual Awards, which honour ground-breaking work to improve access for deaf people across the UK.
The centre has been nominated for its British Sign Language-backed CobraFIT programme, which provides fully-signed exercise sessions to include people who are deaf or have some form of hearing impairment.
With the sign-supported classes, deaf people are able to work out with other members and follow the fitness routines as the instructions are signed at the same time as they are spoken.
Shipley is one of the only fitness centres in the UK providing the inclusive classes, which the centre co-owner, Nicola Procter, and her sister, Helen Lynch, decided to start in September last year after being told by their deaf contacts that they felt excluded from mainstream exercise activities.
Nicola's husband, and fellow co-owner, David Procter, said: "We feel very strongly that everyone has the right to live a healthy and active lifestyle, and to have access to the services that empower them to do so.
"It’s a really great honour to have this ethos recognised in the Signature awards.
"A big thank-you goes out to our trained coaches, and particularly all our deaf and hearing clients for making the classes such a great success.
"It seems to have been an enlightening experience for everyone, as many of our hearing clients are now trying to learn some basic sign language so that they can chat more easily with their deaf friends.
"Hopefully everyone will support us as this will help to promote these values even more widely."
The Signature panel of judges said was particularly impressed with the use of signing in mainstream classes so deaf clients can participate alongside everyone else.
They noted the integrated groups allowed everyone to mingle and share the social element of attending the centre.
Signature chief executive Jim Edwards said: "The centre has shown that great things can be achieved when deaf and hearing people work together to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
"Now it’s all down to the local community to rally behind them in the public vote."
Voting in the awards closes on October 3.
To support the centre, visit signatureannualawards.org.uk/you-decide.