On the 27th March Team Insight delivered a teambuilding and visual impairment awareness training event at the Desborough Leisure Centre for the Learning and Development team of O2.

The team of 40 were split into two, a morning session and an afternoon session. Our objectives for the day were to create concise communication, develop trust and build their visual impairment awareness in a unique and exciting way. Initially we knew we would be pushing the participants far from their comfort zones, but ultimately we anticipated they would also have fun and gain confidence.

When the delegates first put the blindfolds on, many felt uncomfortable, isolated and disorientated, so the first activity was a welcome distraction. We began with ‘alphabodies’ where each team had one sighted instructor who had to direct their team into whichever letter was called out. The groups were surprised when doing the activity at how difficult it was to give non-visual instructions and how much they had to concentrate on giving concise communication. It was entertaining for everyone involved when an instructor would get so far and then realise they’d forgotten what a ‘B’ looked like and what got even more laughs was the ‘interpretations’ of letters, we ended up with a lot of lightning strikes that were meant to be ‘z’s’.

We moved onto relay races; in less than one hour, the groups went from feeling afraid and daunted by simply putting on the shades, to running unassisted in an 18 metre long blindfolded relay race! The race really strengthened the sense of trust amongst the groups as well as bringing out everyone’s competitive edge.

The transformation that occurred through the build-up activities was incredible, not only in the level of communication and trust in the groups, but the level of understanding of how it feels to be visually impaired had dramatically changed.

After a short break, where everyone had had a chance to try our visual impairment simulation spectacles and talk to the Team Insight staff about our Paralympic experiences and different visual impairments, we moved onto the Goalball experience.

Everyone was instructed on the rules of the game, how to defend, shoot and pass. They quickly dived on into a round-robin tournament. The competition brought everyone together either playing as a team or in watching and cheering on their co-workers. The competitive nature of the delegates was obvious to all and especially entertaining in some of the highly creative manner of goal celebrations.

We surprised the groups by finishing the sessions with an opportunity for each of them to do a penalty shootout against Georgie. Those who scored their penalty won a ‘I Beat a Paralympian’ Team Insight teddy bear, but they soon found out that Georgie wouldn’t go down without a fight as in each group of 20 delegates, only 3 were successful. Those that scored were greeted with the explosive cheer and congratulations of their co-workers.

The Learning and Development team of O2 were fantastic representatives of the organisation as all of the delegates embraced every challenge.

Paul Morgan, the Head of Learning and Development for O2, said afterwards: “I have organised many team events, but this one is so unique that you and your team will never forget it! Georgie and her team take you completely out of your comfort zone and you will see many different reactions, from ones of fear and discomfort at the start of the exercises, to by the end everyone really gets into the event and have forgotten everything they felt at the start. How can you not be inspired by Paralympians and supporting the awareness of visual impairment, as two-thirds of visually impaired people are still out of work. My team have been inspired by the activity, by the sport and ultimately by Georgie.”