The annual Paralympic Experience Event was held on Friday 18th March at Forrester / St Augistine’s High School and attracted a record number of young people from across Edinburgh, the Lothian and Borders, reinforcing the popularity of the event in the region. The day long event is open to school aged young people with a physical or sensory impairment and is facilitated through the strong working relationship between Edinburgh Active Schools, Scottish Disability Sport and Lothian Disability Sport who take the lead in organising, coordinating and planning the event.
Sixty four children registered to participate, however the number reduced to 58 after a few call offs on the day and the youngsters were given the opportunity to try six different sports as local coaches delivered engaging sessions in badminton, basketball, judo, swimming, tennis and wheelchair rugby. The sports sessions were chosen after taking feedback on board from last year’s event with each activity proving successful in the past. Swimming was included for only the second year after being introduced in 2015 and again allowed many of the participants, regardless of experience or ability the chance to try the sport under the watchful eye of coaches from local club Lothian Racers and staff from Scottish Swimming. Edinburgh Leisure have spearheaded the swimming element over the last two years, providing experienced swim staff on poolside and in the water to oversee and support the less experienced young people. The delivery provided by local coaches is a crucial aspect of the event providing an invaluable club link and providing a familiar face for any young athlete looking to make that transition into regular activity.
The event relies heavily on parental support, with the vast majority of participants being accompanied by their parents for the entire day. This allows both the children and parents the chance to discuss sporting opportunities with coaches and professional staff and highlights the excellent sports sessions that are available in the region. The quote below was taken from a parent after this year’s event -
“Another really good day this year and lots of positive feedback again from other parents that were present. Kevin Simpson (ex Paralympic tennis player and this year’s Q&A panellist) is a great speaker and provided much inspiration to the kids, as does the event as a whole.”
This year’s Question & Answer session saw ex Paralympic Tennis player, Kevin Simpson and Lothian Phoenix and Scotland under 23 wheelchair basketball player Josh Manson discuss their experiences in disability sport aiming to inspire the stars of the future to potentially follow a similar path. In addition to the Q&A session, this year saw the introduction of a ‘Market Place’ where around 14 organisations attended to promote their programmes, projects and activities and discuss further opportunities with the large number of parents in attendance. This was further complimented by the CPD Workshop delivered by experienced tutor Richard Brickley MBE, providing an insight into ‘How to Identify and Include Children and Young People with a Disability in Sport’ with over 20 teachers, coaches and volunteers strengthening their knowledge in the field.
Thanks is extended to all parents and young people for their attendance and participation, the club coaches, volunteers and Governing Bodies of Sport for delivering sessions that were engaging and inclusive for all the youngsters in attendance. The Paralympic Experience Event will come round again in 2017, so please keep a close eye here for all the latest information.