After attending the Buckinghamshire Sports Festival in 2022 it was great to welcome back George from Berkshire for the week long National Junior Games...
Ayden is 17 years old and from Surrey and has always had a keen interest in sport. Just over a year ago Ayden woke up paralysed and he now has no movement from the pelvis down. He is a full time wheelchair user and has some trunk balance which is recovering more over time.
Ayden tells us more, “I woke up 18 months ago paralysed and spent 2 months in hospital under investigation to figure out what’s going on. I’m still under investigation and I have got feeling. My core control is not brilliant so I have a brace that helps keep me up in the sports.”
Ayden’s mum Jenny told us how they found about this year’s Junior Games, “I am a wheelchair therapist and attended the Kidz South Exhibition both in a professional capacity and to find out more about opportunities available for Ayden. It was here that we met Emily from WheelPower, we started chatting and luckily found about the Junior Games. It was meant to be and we signed up soon after.”
Ayden and his mum Jenny arrived at Stoke Mandeville Stadium on June 28 ready to experience 3 days of sport and activity, full of excitement and very much looking forward to trying lots of new sports. The initial reactions were really positive, “I’ve been in a wheelchair for a year and I never thought I would be able to do any types of sports and different activities and the Junior Games has shown me that with the right equipment that I can actually do everything a walking person can do. This is my first year here and I’m loving it.”
Ayden had recovered enough to use a sports wheelchair and realised straight away how much easier they are to manoeuvre. “The first thing I noticed at the Junior Games was the wheelchairs. I transferred in to one and the lightweight, movement was amazing.”
“The first sport I did was basketball and straight away I thought this was amazing. I got in to games and they taught us how to throw properly. I loved it and I thought I’d stay there the whole day! I’ve never done wheelchair basketball before but I used to do a lot of sports when I was walking bodied but never thought in a million years I would do it in a wheelchair!”
Basketball was clearly Ayden’s favourite but with 3 days and 15 sports to try he headed to the other areas of the Stadium. “I tried archery which was okay. I found it difficult at first and it was different to what I’m used to. I have also have been doing a lot of badminton recently so I enjoyed the challenge of playing against the coaches.”
On seeing Ayden trying so many different sports Mum Jenny said, “Ayden tried basketball, archery and handcycling and loved them all. He’s got very excited by the basketball in particular and is so enthused by the game. He stayed there quite a while, and his arms are getting a bit tired now!”
“He used to be a very keen sportsperson before this happened and being here has given him the opportunity to see how to see how he can do the same sports as a wheelchair user. He’s really enjoyed himself, so so have I. I would absolutely would recommend the Games and I’ve picked up some leaflets to help spread the word. Thank you WheelPower.”
Reflecting on 3 days at the National Junior Games Ayden told us, “Finding out about this event has been life changing really and that there’s so many different sports you can do. Going home is going to be so much fun now, knowing that I’m not going to be stuck at home anymore doing nothing.”
“Playing sport makes me feel independent and very freeing, and I feel normal. It doesn’t matter what your disability is, you can still do everything everyone else does. Even if you don’t want to do sports, come down to these events and watch others. Come down for a day and see what its like and have a go. It’s worth it! My mum said hasn’t seen me this happy since 2018 and we have been talking about starting a wheelchair basketball club at home.”
Thank you Ayden for sharing your story with WheelPower. We look forward to hearing what you do next and wish you every success in whichever sports you chose to pursue.