WheelPower Sports Festival at Stoke Mandeville Stadium
Stoke Mandeville Stadium played host to the WheelPower Sports Festival last week in a day of sporting celebration and competition.
WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, organised the event at Stoke Mandeville, which allowed people with disabilities to try a variety of sports, including Tennis, Wheelchair Basketball, Archery and Athletics. The event was WheelPower’s final wheelchair sports festival of the year, bringing together local individuals, school groups and organisations to enjoy a full day of activity.
For many, these events are a first introduction to wheelchair sport and gives the attendees an insight into the opportunities available to continue playing sport and being active locally. The coaches delivered a series of taster sessions throughout the day - all whilst being supported by a wonderful group of volunteers.
Jasmin, 19, from Aston Clinton, was one of the participants, she said: “It’s been a really good day and I would absolutely recommend the WheelPower Sports Festival to other wheelchair users like myself.
“I really liked the archery, and it was something I’d never done before. Maybe I could be the next Robin Hood! All in all, it’s been such a great experience, to meet new people and to try new things.”
Another participant was George, who had travelled from Berkshire and was really excited to have a go at everything on offer. "I love sport and have really enjoyed my first festival experience with WheelPower.
“I’ve not played wheelchair tennis for about four years and really enjoyed playing again. I also loved the archery which I'd never done before in a chair. Events like this show what is possible and the different sports you can play in the future."
The event was supported by a group of local coaches and volunteers who helped the participants to achieve their best throughout the day. One of the volunteers was Francis from Amersham. He explains his motivations for donating his time to help the charity. "This is the first time I’ve volunteered in disability sports, and it makes me really humble to see how much resilience people have and how much positivity people get from playing sports.
I’ve had a great time, met lots of amazing people and I feel like I’m making more of a difference in the world.”
Conor Harris, Sports Event Coordinator at WheelPower, was thankful to everyone who helped make the wheelchair sports festival such a success. “It has been a brilliant day here at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and it was fantastic to see the sports hall looking and sounding so busy again.
“This is the first time we have delivered our festival event in Buckinghamshire since the COVID pandemic and it is great to be back. These events are not only fun but provide an opportunity to try wheelchair sport that many have never had before.
“It's life changing in so many ways and we hope that everyone who joined us can take away lots of positivity and enthusiasm to continue their sporting journeys in the future.”