British Wheelchair Sports – Case Studies
The National Junior Games,which took place at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, featured on ITV news earlier this week. We wish to demonstrate how sports can aid disabled people in building confidence and aspirations, in addition to improving both mental and physical health.
Here’s one of a set of case studies from participants and their parents who give their own personal accounts of how the Games have benefited them both mentally and physically.
Jessica Green, Age 14 years
Jessica’s thoughts on the Games?
“Really good fun. I’ve been doing archery, powerlifting 20 kilos. I’ve been on TV, (National Junior Games feature on ITV news) it was really good being on TV, I feel more famous and I’ve been signing autographs.
What about taking part in the junior games?
I felt really excited to come down here because meeting new friends, meeting loads of new friends. I’ve tried boccia, it’s good, powerlifting and handcycling. It was really scary at first, because I felt I was falling off the bike, but you get used to it. (What about the speed?) I felt like I was running.
What other sports have you done?
Archery, wheelchair slalom, shot put, discus and swimming.
Did you go to the disco last night?
Yes, it was a bit loud, I’ve got a sore throat from all that singing,
Jessica’s Mum Rebecca, On The Benefits Of The National Junior Wheelchair Games
What is it like coming to the National Junior Games for Jessica?
“It’s been incredible fun, it’s an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Especially the breadth of sports she’s been able to try, she had never tried handcycling before until we came here two years ago, and she got the bug so quickly that within six weeks we’d bought her own handcycle. She calls it “Tink” after “Tinkerbell” (the Disney character) because it’s green, she says when she’s in it she thinks she can fly. We now come down here every one to two months and do handcycling on the track out there, for us it’s about a four or five hour round trip, so it’s quite a commitment, but it’s worth coming down just to meet the people that help us.
We got into Archery because of Wheelpower, she did it for the first time two years ago and they suggested we join a club, so we went along and joined a club so now all three of us, me, her Dad and Jess are all members of an archery club. We all have our own kit, thanks to Trevor (one of the British Archery Association coaches) it cost us a fortune. He got Jess into it and now all of us are involved.
So Handcycling and Archery were her two main loves, but last year really to our surprise she discovered powerlifting and she lifted 30 kilos, which is over half her body weight. She’s such a girly girl and lifting that much and she just loved it and she would do it until she was exhausted, and they were having to send her away saying she needed to rest, drink and eat. She’d go away and rest and ten minutes later she’d say I’m going back to do more powerlifting.
She also learned all about athletics and how to throw things properly, because we weren’t throwing things correctly, but now we know what to do. When she came last year, she learnt all about competing and the rules and the appreciation of how to be a real competitor and abide by the proper rules and instructions and officials. She went back to school and basically told that they had been doing it wrong and she went into the PE lesson and told them how it had to be done properly and they were proud of her of how much knowledge she’d brought back to school and she came a bit of an expert in certain sports. (Jessica interjected and said she was really proud).
So WheelPower has opened the sporting world for Jessica?
Absolutely, we had tried sports before, loads of different ones and it took us quite a lot of sports to realise that she hated anything with other people, she’s not good with a team sport, but we had to try everything until we discovered that. We kept trying to put her in wheelchair basketball and rugby, table tennis and tennis, but anything that involves another person she struggles a lot and we found that the individual things like archery, handcycling, athletics and swimming suit her personality better because she can concentrate on herself rather than having to rely on other people. She has learning difficulties and sometimes people don’t give her enough time to compute what’s going on, especially something fast like basketball, it moves too quickly (Jessica says “it’s crazy”) Things like archery she can do at her own pace and swimming she’s in her own little world, she doesn’t care what anyone else is doing and if she gets to the end she says I didn’t drown, (laughs) which we always feel is a positive!