Fantastic week at 2022 WheelPower National Junior Games
Last week, 115 disabled children came together at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire for the annual WheelPower National Junior Games. They travelled from right across the UK to the Birthplace of the Paralympic Movement alongside parents, carers, and school groups to take part in this life changing sports event that returned to the calendar for the first time following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hosted by WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, this week long event provides new and exciting opportunities to discover and try 15 different wheelchair sports, that this year included basketball, tennis, powerchair football, boccia, fencing and canoeing.
Supported by a fantastic group of volunteers and coaches from the various governing bodies the event was a great success and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who took part. Young disabled people like 17-year-old Ayden from Surrey who had a week to remember.
"I’ve been in a wheelchair for a year and I never thought I would be able to do all of these different types of sport and activities, and the Junior Games has shown me that I can actually do everything a walking person can do. Sport makes me feel independent and freeing, so finding out about this event has been life changing. My mum said hasn’t seen me this happy since 2018."
Sue from High Wycombe is mum to 10-year-old Orla who has cerebral palsy, said:
"It’s been emotional and amazing event to be involved in. To see all these children doing their best across all these different sports has been fantastic and so inspiring for Orla. After this week she is going to take away so much more awareness of what can be achieved, which will be great for Orla in the future. I would highly recommend coming along next year. Thank you WheelPower."
Latest research from Activity Alliance shows that disabled people have been disproportionality affected by the pandemic. So, the return of events such as the WheelPower National Junior Games are now of even greater importance, to provide opportunities to be more active and play sport, and help to improve health and wellbeing of disabled people across the United Kingdom.
Martin McElhatton, WheelPower Chief Executive, said:
"After the last few years, it was emotional to see our National Junior Games back at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and I can honestly say that it made me so very proud. When we measure the impact of sport and physical activity it is vital that we see the wider impact on the disabled person, their family and their lives and it has been lovely to hear so much positivity about the Games from them all. WheelPower would like to say a huge thanks to all involved, our wonderful volunteers, the sports associations and governing bodies and donors including our new partner The Kentown Wizard Foundation."
Margaret Ingram, CEO of The Kentown Wizard Foundation, said:
"This is an extraordinary event which enables young disabled people to discover a passion for sport in an inclusive and welcoming environment. After two very difficult years, the return of the National Junior Games is a cause for celebration and we are proud to offer our support. The ethos of the Games to “Achieve Your Personal Best” aligns very closely to our own ethos and we hope that for the young people who attend, the benefits are long lasting and maybe even life changing. Above all, we hope they all had a lot of fun."
WheelPower have been providing opportunities in sport for people with physical impairments for over 70 years. Based in Stoke Mandeville, the home of the Paralympic movement, WheelPower is at the heart of wheelchair sport. From first-timers to Paralympic medallists, they support and promote participation at all levels.
For more information visit www.wheelpower.org.uk.
Photo credit: WheelPower