The sixth annual Para Sport Festival took place at Forrester / St Augustine’s Community Sports Hub, Edinburgh on Friday 24th March, attracting 71 school aged pupils with a physical or sensory impairment from across the East of Scotland. The festival, previously known as the Paralympic Experience Event, aims to provide a platform for young people from the mainstream education environment an opportunity to access sports delivered by experienced coaches while also raising awareness of Para Sport.
The number of young people attending the event has grown year on year since its inception in 2012 and demonstrates a strong picture of partnership working between Scottish Disability Sport and Edinburgh Active Schools with significant input from key organisations Lothian Disability Sport and Edinburgh Leisure. Active Schools Coordinators from Edinburgh provide a pivotal presence on the day, facilitating the event and leading the groups of young people throughout while making them feel welcome and supported for the day. Jill Coleman, who has the responsibility for Disability and Inclusion while also taking a lead role on the festival, commented: “The festival is one of the highlights in the Edinburgh Active Schools school sports calendar. Not only is it a fantastic sporting event for the young people in our schools but it also creates an opportunity for dialogue with young people and their parents regarding further potential sports development in schools and the wider community.”
The day is also supported by some Scottish Governing Bodies and delivered by local inclusive clubs from the region, providing a direct link for any young people who are keen to make that transition into more regular sporting opportunities. The sports delivered on the day were athletics, badminton, boccia, judo, powerchair football, swimming, tennis and wheelchair basketball. Additionally, parents are encouraged to attend and stay for the duration of the event to provide an insight into disability sport and the opportunities that are available to their sons / daughters in local and surrounding areas. This is supplemented by the event Market Place which invites associated organisations to promote their services to parents, young people, professional officers, coaches and volunteers.
Neal Herbert, Scottish Disability Sport Regional Manager (East) highlighted: “The event continues to grow each year, demonstrating its popularity and significance across the East of Scotland. From the 71 young people who attended on the day, just over 50% were previous attendees while the other young people were attending for the first time, highlighting the hard work carried out by all local partners to identify and support these young towards the event.
“The region has some of the country’s leading sports clubs and they are central to the success of the event, the task is now to help support all interested young people into a regular sporting opportunity.”
For further information, please get in touch with Neal Herbert, Scottish Disability Sport Regional Manager (East) on 0131 625 4414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.