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On Thursday 10 March, over 40 disabled people aged from 6 to 60 attended an all day wheelchair sports event at the Colchester Sports Park in Essex.
The event was organised by WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport and it provided everyone who took part the opportunity to try a variety of sports including Boccia, Tennis, Volleyball, Cricket and Table Tennis. The festival was WheelPower’s first in-person event since 2019 and the first time the charity has delivered an event for the people of Essex, meaning the excitement from everyone involved was clear to see. The sports festival was supported by the Rotary Club of Colchester and by local clubs, organisations, and coaches who delivered a series of activities for all of the physically disabled children and adults who took part.
Hear from some of those who took part and what they enjoyed most about their day of wheelchair sport with WheelPower:
"I have enjoyed playing all the sports and really liked the cricket so far. It’s interesting playing in a wheelchair and it's been good to give everything a go. If you don’t like it then keep trying things until you find one you like! I’ve made lots of friends in my group and I would totally recommend it. Playing sports with other people like you is really interesting and it's been a really good time. When I'm older I would love to do something to do sport in the future. Whether that’s playing, teaching or coaching sport, who knows.” Max, 12 from Chelmsford
" I was excited about coming today as I’ve been to some similar things before and they were a lot of fun. I have tried volleyball, boccia and cricket so far, oh and tennis. I liked the volleyball the best because I kept getting in the face! (with a soft ball obviously) I would recommend it to others and would like to come to another one in the future. I am doing table tennis next and would like to try archery one day as I think it would be fun too. Playing sport makes me feel happy and tired! Roxy, 10 from Colchester
" I felt excited about coming today and was most looking forward to playing tennis as I play wheelchair tennis with my local LTA. I’ve played volleyball, cricket and ping pong already and we’re about to play boccia. I really liked the ping pong! Playing sports gets rid of all the anxiety built up inside of me and sport makes me feel happy. I would definitely recommend the festival to others for trying new sports and trying stuff you’ve never done before. I never knew I was good at ping pong before and I really liked it and was really good at it. I’m going to find some sessions of ping pong near me. I will never stop playing sport! Dillon, 10 from Ipswich
"I came to a WheelPower event before at Stoke Mandeville Stadium so wanted to try this one too. I’ve done table tennis, volleyball, tennis and cricket today and the one I’ve enjoyed the most is the volleyball because its fun. Sport is fun, and it’s hard and satisfying sometimes. I would recommend the festival to other people because they are very good and very fun!" Dougie, 9 from Colchester
"I did my rehab at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and it’s fantastic to come along and support today's WheelPower Festival in my area. The biggest thing for me is meeting local people and having a good laugh. It's been a fantastic day and huge for me. Playing sport puts you in a good mood and lifts your spirits and gives you good vibes!" Craig, 38 from Harwich
"Our son Nathaniel has cerebral palsy and he is 6 years old. This event is just around the corner for us which was brilliant to come along and try some sports. Nat likes doing physical things and days like this are great. He loves playing sport with other children and has really enjoyed it today. He’s loved the table tennis and trying some new things that he hasn’t done before, and realising what he can do in a wheelchair. I would absolutely and most definitely recommend the festival to others and it’s been lovely to meet other parents." Nathaniels Family from Colchester
" We have done events for WheelPower before, junior games, adult events and events like today. It has gone really well considering this is the first real taster event we have done for 2 ½ 3 years. To see 30/40 new players have a go at wheelchair cricket today has been fantastic. Disability sport took a real hit with the pandemic and events like this with different multi sports and really important for young and adults in wheelchairs to get involved and try something new." Bradley Donovan, Essex Cricket/UK Wheelchair Cricket Association
"The idea of running a Colchester sports festival with WheelPower was something we had wanted to do before the pandemic and we are glad we were finally able to do it. You see the participants arriving and lacking in confidence, not sure what the day will bring but once they start getting involved it all changes. They come away full of excitement, with improved self-confidence and really relish playing sport again." Trevor Sayer, Rotary Club of Colchester
The WheelPower Festivals are for many the first time trying a particular sport and it is our hope that these days inspire disabled people to lead healthier and more active lives when they return home. Sport has so many physical, social and wellbeing benefits and the smiles we saw in Colchester say it all. We are so thankful for the support of the local community, clubs, coaches, families and volunteers from the Rotary Club of Colchester who all contributed to a fantastic event in Essex.
Read the full press release: WheelPower hosts its first Sports Festival of 2022