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.
Nakita Wright age 10 years
What does it mean to be here?
“There’s a lot of stuff, there’s not just one thing or two things to do, there’s loads of stuff all around everywhere and they give you space to do stuff and it’s on all day so you don’t have to rush around and say be there, be there.”
What sports have you tried and what sports have you liked?
“I really liked racing, shooting, I liked rugby and basketball. I like the wrestling off it, but you have to race to get it and it’s fun but it really wears you out, but you have to get the ball and it’s like a team sport, you have to cooperate with your team.”
What other sports have you done?
“Archery, wheelchair slalom, shot put, discus and swimming.”
What did you like about shooting?
“It’s like a nice calming, nice calm one, you don’t have to race around all the time and you really have to focus on it. You have to aim it and then shoot it, while talking to someone else. I got mostly tens or nines. I like the rifles over there, but I might see if there’s a club near my house to try other sorts of guns or pistols.”
What other sports are you looking forward to doing here?
“I’m looking forward to the swimming and I haven’t done basketball this week. I go swimming four times a week because I live next to a swimming pool, so me and my friends go and swim for an hour.”
What is it like being with people with similar disabilities here?
“Yes they understand and it’s really inclusive. I haven’t made any friends yet, but I’m hoping to.”
Nakita’s mum Natasha Wright:
“Nakita was a very active young lady and unfortunately three years ago this month (October) she was learning to surf and twisted her back with a hyperextension which led to her being paralysed. Since then we’ve had various rehabilitation efforts in St Francis ward in Stoke Mandeville. We were here in August where we met Ollie, (Oliver Buncombe, Sports Development Officer, Wheelpower) and he was talking part in basketball in the sports hall and she seemed to love it and excel and wasn’t afraid of bashing into people, even though she was playing with adults. Ollie came over to us and explained what he does and how Wheelpower works and that he would like us to come up and take part in the National Junior Games this week.”
“It’s so nice to see her with that smile on her face. She kind of lost that sparkle for a little bit and now it seems that she’s regained it, bless her. She’s not scared to try anything and she will give everything her all. For a little girl, she may only look tiny, but don’t be deceived by that, there’s a lot of power behind that.”
Mentally, is it important for her to do something like this?
“Yes we have struggle at home with adaptions, getting her inclusive in school, we’ve had a quite tough year in regards to her inclusion in sports within school. Her sports day was quite a challenging day for myself, they said that they were including her, but they isolated her out and made her race on her own against her own time. To me that wasn’t inclusion that was isolation and from that point we said we’ve got to get her into something, she’s got so much energy to burn. Unfortunately, where we live there isn’t so much within the local amenities, but we’ve been encouraged to come up to Wheelpower and everyone’s been so nice and welcoming. Even though we are on our own, we’re not with a group, initially if you’d have asked me three years ago I would have said no I wouldn’t do anything like that with her on my own, but now it’s just opened doors and there’s a big wide world out there. There is the support out there if you want it or need it, you’ve just got to put yourself out there.”
“If it wasn’t for the likes of Ollie coming over, he’s such a lovely person and he makes you feel at ease straight away. He said “come up, come up you will really enjoy it” and within ten minutes we were signing a piece of paper to say yeah we’re coming up. That’s it you’ve done it, you’ve got us. But to see her like this it’s well worth the time off.”
Are there local clubs in your area for people like Nakita?
“We have since found out that there are clubs in Bristol, there’s a shooting club and there’s a racing club as well which we can access. It’s important just to be around other wheelchair users because where we live she is the only one and everyone seems to know her, whizzing around, she’s such a great personality and it’s nice to see her sparkle.”
Would sport be a social thing for her or would she take it seriously, possibly Paralympics etc?
“No I think she’s going to go all the way. I think she’s definitely got the drive behind her and if me and daddy support her and we’ve got the support of Wheelpower, then there’s no stopping her. There’s no reason why she can’t aim for the top. She’s good at her shooting and racing, she’s wiping the floor with me and daddy shooting.”
“Nakita is in her element, she has got such a smile on her face and I had a bit of a moment over there at the track, I had a few tears in my eyes watching her going around.”