The National Junior Games is just one of WheelPower’s many wheelchair-friendly and inclusive sporting events designed to increase the importance of how sport can play a vital positive role in the wellbeing and mental health of young disabled people across the country.
Latest national research suggests that non-disabled people are twice (46.6%) as likely to play sport than disabled people (24.4%).
The flagship event, aimed at disabled children aged 12-18 years old, provides a superb opportunity to take time out of the classroom and discover sport in a safe, welcoming and friendly environment. This year some 140 participants from across the country are expected to attend.
The Games will combine have-a-go sessions with coaching from some of the country’s leadingsports professionals, and competitions in a range of different age groups and sports.
The initiative is all in line with WheelPower’s strategy, ‘Pushing Forward’ which aims totransform lives through sport and enable more disabled people to lead healthy and active lives.It also coincides with the Charity’s 70th anniversary celebrations of the birth of the Paralympic Movement and wheelchair sport at Stoke Mandeville.
Oliver Buncombe, Sports Development Officer comments, “The National Junior Games are afantastic way in which disabled children and young adults can experience and engage with sport and physical activity. The Games also provide a platform for the sharing of ideas and experiences between participants, teachers, parents, carers and guardians. WheelPower is thoroughly excited to run the Games this year and look forward to welcoming participants bothnew and old”.
Martin McElhatton, Chief Executive of WheelPower says, “Participants will be following in the paths of Paralympic stars such as Ade Adepitan, David Weir, and Baroness Tanni-GreyThompson, who all took part in WheelPower’s National Junior Games on their road to success. Although for WheelPower it is about giving the young people the chance to achieve their personal best, find a sport they love and inspire them to continue playing sport and being active throughout their lives.”
The sports and activities include; archery, athletics, wheelchair basketball, boccia, bowls, cue sports, wheelchair fencing, golf, handcycling, polybat, powerlifting, wheelchair rugby, swimming, table games, table tennis, tennis and zone hockey.
Parents, guardians, personal assistants, and teachers will be involved in supporting participants during activities to ensure that they get the best experience possible throughout the event. All sports coaches are qualified, have DBS checks and have lots of experience of delivering activity to disabled people.
Previous participants have commented on how the National Junior Games experience has noticeably improved their lives:
Fyona Gamble – Ashfield, Nottinghamshire - 17 years old
“I was eleven when I first came to Stoke Mandeville (National Junior Games) and I participated in the “Have A Go” sessions. I want it to lead to the Paralympics definitely, we’ve only got a year to the next Games, but I reckon 2020 I’m definitely in for. I enjoy archery. I have everythingto give for the National Junior Games, honestly it’s amazing”.
As part of the event, the Buckinghamshire High Sheriff, Ruth Farewell, will be attending a reception to highlight the importance of this annual event in WheelPower’s sporting calendar. The whole programme culminates in the much loved disco which adds a social element to the Games in a celebration of everyone’s efforts to take part in sport and be more physically active.