Aylesbury Vale-based charity prepares to welcome paralysed hospital patients to flagship sporting event
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A charity based in Aylesbury Vale will be welcoming recently paralysed hospital patients along to its flagship sporting event this month.
WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, based in Stoke Mandeville, is hosting its annual Inter Spinal Unit Games.
Over 75 participants will be travelling from across the UK, and for many it will be first time away from the hospital environment following a life changing spinal cord injury.
The games have been taking place at the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement since 1988 and the charity continues the work of its founder Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann to provide sport and activities to support patients during their rehabilitation.
Over four days, the attendees will get to try 20 sports including wheelchair basketball, curling, wheelchair rugby, tennis, Rowing, wheelchair racing, shooting, hand cycling and wheelchair fencing.
The sports take place across the Stoke Mandeville Stadium site and involve taster sessions and competitions as the week progresses.
The event also allows participants to share their experiences, tips and advice with each other.
Past participant Casey said: “It felt really nice to be in such an inclusive environment and everything was totally accessible. It was great being around other wheelchair users and I said to myself ‘I’m alright, I’m not in the minority here and I’m all good. The sports chairs gave me so much confidence to try everything.
“Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and made it so easy to have a go. I would absolutely recommend the games to anybody with a spinal cord injury, it was life changing for me to enjoy sport again. The feeling of a sense of belonging was the most special thing.
“I am stoked beyond words, it was the best event and a really wild ride with the most amazing people, and I wish we could do it all again.”
WheelPower has welcomed many future GB athletes who first discovered their love of sport at the Inter Spinal Unit Games. They include Paralympic medallist Sammi Kinghorn, British rower Benjamin Pritchard and GB Para-Powerlifting record holder Liam McGarry.
The powerlifter explained: “I wanted to see what the world of sport looked like from a wheelchair and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. The games were fantastic and I was keen to try it all, and during the week competed in the tennis, table tennis, swimming, archery, and the powerlifting. I will always be thankful to WheelPower and the spinal unit games as this is where the amazing journey that I am now on all started.”
WheelPower Chief Executive Martin McElhatton said: “2023 will be the 34th edition of the Inter Spinal Unit Games and with an estimated 1,500 people paralysed each year they still hold an important role in the rehabilitation of people with a spinal cord injury. The Games have helped thousands of people over the years and the thrill of finding something as positive as sport can be for newly paralysed people is what moves WheelPower to continue to provide this life transforming event for many more years to come.”