WheelPower will host the 33rd edition of the Inter Spinal Unit Games this September
This September the national charity for wheelchair sport, WheelPower will host the 33rd edition of the Inter Spinal Unit Games. After 2 years away, this life changing event returns to Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement and in 2022 they will welcome newly injured patients and staff from more than 10 spinal units across the United Kingdom.
The Games form an essential part of many spinal patients’ rehabilitation, and this annual event provides a fantastic opportunity to discover sport and enjoy a more active lifestyle. Over 4 exciting days the attendees will get to try over 15 wheelchair sports and learn from qualified coaches from a variety of National Governing Bodies and clubs. In 2022 the sports on offer will include Wheelchair Basketball, Table Tennis, Wheelchair Rugby, Tennis, Canoeing, Wheelchair Racing, Shooting, Hand Cycling and Wheelchair Fencing to name a few. The sports take place across the Stoke Mandeville Stadium site and involve taster sessions and competitions as the week progresses.
The Games are sometimes a participant’s first experience outside a hospital environment since their injury, and they provide an important pathway to finding out the tremendous benefits that sport and physical activity can have on disabled people’s lives. The event itself is also very sociable and for those who attend, being able to talk to others of a similar age and injury, to share ideas, tips and advice is a very important aspect of the event, in addition to the sport and activity. One of the participants from 2019 said, "It is wonderful to be here at the Inter Spinal Unit Games and to meet other people my age. When I was in hospital I was surrounded by middle-aged women and men, so I've missed the social aspect. Playing sports helps me to strengthen my core muscles, and at the moment all my energy is focused on getting back to walking.” Giselle Moor from the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre, Sheffield.
In the past WheelPower has welcomed many future athletes who first discovered their love of sport at the Inter Spinal Unit Games. Current athletes such as wheelchair racer and 2x Paralympic medallist Sammi Kinghorn first sat in a racing chair at this event in 2011. British Rower Benjamin Pritchard took part in the Games in 2017 trying lots of sports before finally choosing rowing on his journey to Tokyo 2020. And Liam McGarry GB Para-Powerlifting Record Holder was spotted by British Weightlifting during the 2018 Games and is now on the Paralympic pathway to Paris 2024. He continues, “When I first heard about the spinal unit games it was something that I was keen to take part in. I wanted to see what the world of sport looked like from a wheelchair and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. The games were fantastic and I was keen to try it all, and during the week competed in the tennis, table tennis, swimming, archery, and the powerlifting. I will always be thankful to WheelPower and the spinal unit games as this is where the amazing journey that I am now on all started.”
Emily Weller, Head of Sport at WheelPower, comments: “The Inter Spinal Unit Games provide a brilliant opportunity for individuals with a spinal cord injury to discover activity and sport in a safe and welcoming environment. The Games provide them with the chance to meet with people in a similar situation and share their own personal experiences about life with a spinal cord injury. From the first to the last day you can see how life changing this event is, demonstrating the really transformative work of WheelPower and the difference the charity makes to disabled people’s lives.”
Martin McElhatton, WheelPower Chief Executive said: “After a challenging couple of years we are delighted that one of our flagship events will be returning this September. Over 33 years the Inter Spinal Unit Games has given newly paralysed people the opportunity to try a wide range of sports and find out the positive impact it can make to your quality of life. Following my spinal injury, sport played a huge part in my life and here at WheelPower we want to encourage more disabled people to discover the many benefits of playing sport and being active for themselves. We are grateful to all of the coaches, the volunteers and to our fantastic sponsors Coloplast for supporting this year’s event. Following on from the pandemic we understand that the Inter Spinal Unit Games are more important than ever before, and we look forward to supporting all the participants at the Games this year.”
For more information about the Games please visit https://www.wheelpower.org.uk/sport-events/inter-spinal-unit-games-2022