Hackney children mark two years to the Paralympics at Stoke Mandeville

Children had the chance to try out a range of new sports at Stoke Mandeville – the home of the Paralympic Games.

With just two years to go until the start of the 2012 Paralympics, 17 disabled young people enjoyed a free four-day trip, taking part in activities including badminton, archery, wheelchair basketball, tennis, sitting volleyball and boccia – a Paralympic sport similar to boules.

And they were thrilled to be joined by Paralympic swimmer and gold medallist Sascha Kindred OBE, who learnt to swim in Hackney.

The ‘Time to Shine’ events were held at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the National Centre for Disability Sport, and were offered to the children as a result of Hackney being a host borough for the 2012 Games.

Children from schools including Stormont House, Horizon and the Petchey Academy were offered the opportunity via Hackney Council and the Learning Trust, which runs the borough’s schools. The event was organised by charity WheelPower and was paid for by Olympic Park contractors including CLM.

Young people from each of the five host boroughs (Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest) took part and competed against each other.

Kim Wright, Hackney Council Corporate Director for Community Services, said: “This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to take part in different sports and meet new friends. I hope that as they live in a host borough for the 2012 Games, they will feel inspired to keep active and healthy.”

Aneurin Wood, Disability Inclusion Officer at The Learning Trust, organised the Hackney team. He said: “What was special about Time to Shine was that we got a real mixture of kids – some with physical disabilities, some with learning difficulties; some who were already accomplished athletes and some who were taking part in sport for the very first time. For the young people, it was probably the experience of bonding together as a team which was most valuable – though coming home with three awards was a fantastic boost as well.”

Martin McElhatton, WheelPower Chief Executive commented, “With two years to go to the Paralympic Games in London, Time to Shine provided an opportunity to inspire young disabled people to take part in sport. For children with disabilities sport can be a fantastic way to lead a healthy lifestyle, have fun and break down the barriers in life. WheelPower welcomed the children from Hackney and other host Olympic Borough to Stoke Mandeville Stadium and hope that their experience here encouraged them to achieve their sporting dream just like the Paralympians will do in two years time in London.”

Ian Galloway, CLM Programme Director, said: “Time to Shine provides a unique opportunity for children from London to visit and be inspired by Stoke Mandeville. More importantly it gives them the chance to try sports they may not have had the opportunity to do at home and our hope is that we can create a legacy of sports provision across all Olympic Boroughs so that the legacy of London 2012 is a tangible one for children with disabilities with opportunities to take part in sport at all levels.”

Time to Shine is funded by WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, thanks to the support of the 2012 Olympic Park Contractors matched in part by funding via Sport England’s Sportsmatch Scheme. In addition to providing two events in 2009 and 2010 for children aged six to 11 Time to Shine has funded an Activator role to support the Olympic Boroughs deliver their Olympic and Paralympic Five Borough Sports Plan. This, together with Time to Shine events in the lead up to 2012, will aim to provide a long lasting legacy for children with disabilities in the Olympic Boroughs.