Malachy from West Sussex attended his first WheelPower National Junior Games in 2023 and was very excited about the prospect of trying lots of sport and making new friends. Whilst at the event we caught up with his grandmother and guardian Lucy who introduced us to Malachy and told us all about their experience. This is their story …

“Malachy ‘Mac’ has Spina bifida hydrocephalus malformations and scoliosis, so he is disabled from  the chest down. He goes to a specialist school for children with Cerebral Palsy and Spina bifida, but doesn’t get a lot of access to sport and activity. He plays Boccia occasionally and a few other games but that’s all.”

This was the first time they had attended a WheelPower event and its safe to say he was having a great time. “He is absolutely loving it and he’s tried pretty much everything. Even the Handcycling that took three of us to get him into the handcycle, but once in he managed it really well. I watched him as he went around the track 3 times which was amazing, and I cried.”

During the event Malachy had the opportunity to try almost 20 different sports and as well as lots of new skills and contacts he is also going to be taking away a lot more confidence as he returns home.

“This experience is going to give him the confidence to know that he can do any sport that he wants to do. He loved the tennis, which I was flabbergasted by and we’ve been back here 4 times now! Both of his brothers do sports, and he just wants to take part so after coming to this event he will have the confidence to do whatever he feels that he would like to do, and we’ll find a way.”

Not only did Malachy have a great week but Lucy (his guardian) also had her eyes opened to the life changing opportunities available for disabled children.

“Being here and meeting other parents and carers has really helped me as a grandparent and a guardian to feel like I can push for more and get more for him. It has opened my eyes, to see that he doesn’t just have to sit there on his computer anymore.

“I didn’t think there was a lot of hope going forward, but this event has given me so much. Every person I have spoken to has given me leaflets or telephone numbers, or email addresses or clubs that we can get to nearer to home. I’ve found that we’ve got archery club near us, we’ve got tennis about half an hour away, we’ve got opportunities that we’d never thought we’d have, and now we can explore different avenues he wants to go down in the future.”

After 4 days at Stoke Mandeville Stadium Lucy and Malachy reflected on their week of sport. As well as the physical benefits he also really enjoyed the social aspect and made lots of new friends.

“Malachy is quite shy but he is opening up and in fact today he asked me not to come with him, so after breakfast he went off and did his own thing! He is finding his voice which he didn’t really have before. The older kids have been great with him, and especially the basketball team who helped and encouraged him.”

Final words … “We’ve had the best time and we’ll be back definitely. I just want to thank everybody for their kindness and giving these children like Malachy a chance. Its been a fabulous experience for both of us so thank you.”