On Wednesday 25 January, 36 disabled people aged from 5 to 65 attended the WheelPower Wheelchair Sports Festival at the Concord Sports Centre, Sheffield, Yorkshire. The event provided everyone who took part with the opportunity to try a variety of sports including Badminton, Boccia, Golf, Table Tennis and Wheelchair Rugby League.
The event was WheelPower’s first wheelchair sports festival of 2023 and the first time we have brought our event to Yorkshire. Thank you to our hosts the Sheffield City Trust, Yorkshire Sport, and the local clubs and volunteers who supported us to put on such a successful event. Special mention to the wonderful coaches from the Sheffield Eagles Wheelchair Rugby team, Badminton England, Table Tennis England, the Sheffield Smashers Boccia club, England Golf and the Handigold Foundation.
These events bring together disabled members of the community, local coaches, and volunteers to enjoy sport, have fun and meet new people. For many this is their first introduction to wheelchair sport and an insight into the opportunities available in their local area. They really are life changing and below you can hear from some of those who took part:
"The festival was amazing and I had so much fun trying golf, badminton, rugby and table tennis. Some of these sports I never thought would be possible for me to play but they were. Everybody who was there was extremely friendly and enthusiastic and I I can't thank everyone enough. Sport has always been really important to me and I’m so happy to be playing again." Ava, 18 from Wakefield
"I’ve absolutely enjoyed my day and I would definitely recommend it. It’s very important for my mental health more than my physical health really. The sport I enjoyed the most and was quite surprised at how well I did was badminton, and that’s now something I would really like to take up in the area as soon as possiblex. Thank you WheelPower for coming to Yorkshire so please come back. If you are coming back next year then I will be too!" Lottie, 41 from Sheffield
"Before contracting long covid and being diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder William was a very active child and sport was a massive part of his life. He had not tried these sports in a wheelchair before so it is all fairly new to him, but he's had so much fun. He was really nervous coming but as soon as he got into it he thought it was brilliant and has tried everything on offer. He especially liked the wheelchair rugby league! As a parent all you want is to see your child enjoying themselves and we have seen him do that all day long. Thank you." Debra, William's Mum from Mansfield.
"This is the first time we’ve come to anything like this, and it’s been absolutely amazing from start to finish. My daughter 4 year old Blaire has been so excited and I’ve never seen her move so much! She can do everything here, have a go at all these sports and do it independently without asking me to come and takeover. I was actually crying earlier as I’ve never seen her like this before, and its lovely to see. She rarely sees other children in wheelchairs, so I think she could do it but never had the confidence to do it. Seeing everyone else has brought that out of her and she’s just rolled with it and got involved." Shauna, Mum to Blaire from Sheffield. "My son Wes is 11 and he has cerebral palsy, so uses a wheelchair full time. He’s really interested in sport but accessing it has been a bit of a challenge, so events like this are fantastic for us to give him a taster of all sorts of things all under one roof. Playing kids of a similar age in a wheelchair has been really nice for him, and seeing the adults has been really aspirational. It’s been lovely to see him being so independent and off with two of the girls in the group. I’d love to be able to take him to more events and clubs in the future. Keep doing what you’re doing WheelPower, its been fantastic." Catherine, Mum to Wes from Leeds