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Young lives transformed by games held in Aylesbury

Stoke Mandeville Stadium hosted the National Junior Games at the end of last month.

Published by Dan Gooding at 2:28pm 16th October 2019. 4-minute read.

Young lives transformed by games held in Aylesbury

Students have praised an event held at the birthplace of the Paralympics here in Aylesbury.

'Being here is like a home away from home', is what Ajani Riggs, 12, from Hull said after experiencing WheelPower's National Junior Games 2019 at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

Over four days at the end of September and start of October WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, welcomed 100 young disabled people aged 12-18 years from schools and as individuals across the country to take part in the annual event.

Some had never played sport before and others had experienced limited access to sports activities at school, yet all were given the opportunity to try out 20 different disability sports and challenge themselves in healthy competitions.

Improving mental and physical wellbeing through sport was the overall aim of the National Junior Games, in addition to providing a platform for those with sporting talent to be identified and nurtured along the Paralympic pathway.

The participants received expert coaching and demonstrations from leading sports athletes and experienced coaches.

'Have-a-Go' sporting activities included:

  • Boccia
  • Table Cricket
  • Athletics (Field Indoors)
  • Cue Sports
  • Zone Hockey
  • Wheelchair Rugby
  • Fencing
  • Table Tennis
  • Shooting
  • Polybat
  • Powerlifting
National Junior Games
National Junior Games

Evie Grace Hallas, who's 11 years old and from Sir William Ramsay School in Buckinghamshire, said:

"It's funny how the The National Junior Games has the surprising effect of eliminating the feeling that most people in my situation have of sheer isolation.

"With a disability like cerebral palsy, people stare because I use a wheelchair, and that makes me feel different. Here, people don't stare at me, it's more like being part of one big family!"

WheelPower's Chief Executive, Martin McElhatton is pleased that the Charity, through generous support from donors and sponsors, was able to host another successful National Junior Games, where youngsters were able to enjoy the incredible benefits of taking part in wheelchair sport.

He said:

"At WheelPower our aim is to transform lives through sport and it is encouraging to see that, once again, all the participants thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to try a wide variety of sports and activities at this year's National Junior Games 2019.

"WheelPower want all of the participants to return home from the Games full of confidence and with the desire to continue playing sport and being active."

Pasan Kularatne, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at WheelPower commented:

"Sport has incredible physical and mental benefits to children with physical impairments. At WheelPower we offer an opportunity through the National Junior Games for participants to find a sport or physical activity which suits them and can help them see a positive future with sport as part of their life.

"We hope that participants will be inspired to continue to maintain their active lifestyles back in their hometowns and that teachers will endeavour to accommodate the disability sports that they have tried into their P.E curriculums."

Beth Kerrigan, who's 11 years old and also from Sir William Ramsay Schoo, said:

"I think this experience has been an eye-opener.

"I'm really into sports anyway, but being here has given me the opportunity to take part in swimming which I would never usually have the option of doing elsewhere easily enough. It has really developed the strength in my leg muscles and I can already feel the benefits of it!"

The whole event culminated in an Awards Ceremony to celebrate the achievements of those who took part in the disability sports competitions.

All of this would of course not be made possible, if not for the very generous donations of fundraisers who have raised money to support the work of WheelPower.

Leah Lewis, WheelPower Community Fundraiser, added:

"From wheelchair relays at schools to book a speaker events, festivals and corporate partnerships we cover the mix.

"Anyone interested in fundraising for WheelPower can visit our Fundraising webpage for ways on how you can give something back and make a transformative difference to people's lives or visit our social media for ways to get involved."

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