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Sports wheelchairs for five Olympic boroughs

wheelchair basketball
People playing wheelchair basketball in the new sports chairs

THE University of East London is providing five Olympic host boroughs with 40 sports wheelchairs to help local communities get fit and active in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

UEL has secured National Lottery funding of £40,000 from the Transformers grants programme to provide 40 sports wheelchairs and sports sessions to the boroughs of Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets, as part of the Chairs in the Community project.

The wheelchairs will be available for people to take part in wheelchair sports, such as badminton, tennis and basketball, at council-run sports centres and local community venues.

Transformers is a small grants programme managed by the East London Business Alliance (ELBA) and funded by the Olympic Lottery Distributor, which is making grants between £10,000 and £20,000 available from September 2010 to December 2012.

At a special event in Hackney Downs, Team GB Paralympic basketball player Helen Turner officially launched the scheme with young people from Stormont House School and Berger Primary School. The event culminated in a game of wheelchair basketball in which Helen, Councillor Jonathan McShane, from Hackney Council, and Stormont House pupils took on the mighty Hackney Sparrows Wheelchair Basketball Club.

David Cosford, Director of Sport at UEL, said: “With the London 2012 Games on the horizon, now is the perfect time for people to start getting fit and active. I’d like to say a big thank you to the Olympic Lottery Distributor and ELBA for making this possible and to Hackney Council for organising this fantastic event.

“While many people will think this scheme is geared towards people with physical disabilities, it is important to stress that these sports wheelchair are there for everyone to use and should be viewed the same way as any other piece of sporting equipment – such as a rowing machine or exercise bike. This is ultimately about getting people involved in team activities and ensuring the provision of sports on a local level is inclusive to all.”

Helen Turner, Team GB Paralympic basketball player, said: “This project is extremely important in developing an infrastructure that will support many young people to participate in sport and also help develop the next generation of Paralympians.

“Being able to experience sporting activities, such as wheelchair basketball, can be such a confidence booster to children as any sporting activity does to all children. It also benefits their health and social skills, but above all, playing sport is fun.”

Twenty sports wheelchairs have been delivered to the boroughs of Newham, Hackney and Waltham Forest and Greenwich and Tower Hamlets will receive their allocation next year.

 

 

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