CHILDREN with a range of disabilities punched, cycled and bowled their way around a special Access Day event yesterday.
Organised by the Advisory Teachers group and Swindon Council’s leisure services team, the bi-annual event welcomed more than 130 children with disabilities from 25 schools around the town to a chance to try sports and activities they would not usually be able to take part in.
Twelve-year-old Ellie Freeman, from Stratton, who has muscle-wasting disease Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, rode a bicycle for the first time when she had a go on one of the adapted bikes.
The pupil from Commonweal said: “It’s just an event where lots of people with lots of different disabilities can come together and try out something new.
“I’ve never been on a bike before and it was just something I couldn’t do before, so being able to give it a go was really fun.
“Not being able to do something while you watch all your friends who can do it is really annoying and frustrating.”
It is the second Access Day held this year, with a similar event held at the Link Centre in February, where children tried martial arts, garden bowls, wheelchair basketball and football, random run and croquet.
Emma Waters, advisory teacher for physical disability at Common-weal, said: “It’s been an absolutely brilliant day.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring together children who have any disability to come along and try out sports they might not have a chance to try in their usual PE sessions.”
Among the sports children could have a go at included boxing, provided by Scrappers Boxing Gym and Community Fitness Centre, where two coaches who themselves have disabilities taught the children how to give the perfect punch.
Charlie Dawson, who has muscular disorder paroxysmal nonkinesogenic choreoathetosis and dystonia ataxia, is one of the trainers helping to prove disability does not mean inability.
The 19-year-old said: “After spending three years at Star College in Cheltenham doing sports, I knew, despite having a disability, becoming a boxing coach is what I wanted to do.”
Michael McCann suffered severe head injuries in a car accident in 2004 and had to relearn to eat, swallow, walk and talk.
The 47-year-old said: “Going to Scrappers Gym has helped to increase my mental well-being and physical fitness.
“It has improved my quality of life and I enjoy going to the gym with my 10-year-old son Micky.”
- To find out more about the project or getting involved, visit www.scrappersgym.com.