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DISABILITY FITNESS


Leisure Connection: Wheelchair sports for disabled and able-bodied


EXPANDING HORIZONS


Becca Douglas takes a look at some of the initiatives aiming to deliver a legacy from the London 2012 Paralympics


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012 will be remembered as an amazing summer of sport for Great Britain – not only in terms of the medal table


and the achievements of Team GB, but also the fact that it shone a spotlight on the home-grown Paralympians who live and train in our facilities day in, day out. Legacy was the watchword in the


build-up to the Games, so what’s being done at a grassroots level to encourage and enable more disabled people into sport and physical activities, at all ages and all levels of ability? Martin McElhatton, CEO of


WheelPower – the national charity for wheelchair sport – says: “More than a


thousand men, women and children in the UK are paralysed due to an accident or illness every year. Many more people acquire a disability that means they need to use a wheelchair. Through sport and regular physical activity, those whose lives have been traumatically changed can enjoy the tremendous physical and psychological benefi ts of participation, and indeed competition.” But where would you go if you were


disabled tomorrow? Would you be happy to go to your local leisure centre and train in the gym with everyone else? For some, the answer would be


‘yes’, but for others more is needed to stimulate their bodies and brains too.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


Welcoming newcomers Last year saw the 25th annual spinal unit games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, welcoming the 13 spinal units from across the UK. Promoting a healthy and active lifestyle through sport for people who have been paralysed in the last year, the games feature a mix of competition and ‘have a go’ sessions, allowing participants to experience a wide range of sports. Archery, table tennis, bowls, swimming and shooting are among the activities on offer. McElhatton says: “The games is


a great programme to inspire and encourage newly paralysed people into physical activity. We recognise that competitive sport isn’t for everyone, but the ‘have a go’ sessions are great to inspire and encourage a broader range of people. We’d love to see this rolled out across the UK, working with more operators to host similar events.”


‘Use it or lose it’ For some operators, disability provision has only recently started to come to the fore, but Watford Leisure Centre has been successfully running its


June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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