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Hosting our first Paralympic Sports Taster Day thanks to your support!

3 April 2012

The Paralympic Games were established right here in Britain in 1948! Just one of the many things I was taught during my training to run the recent Paralympic Sports Taster Day, organised with the help of funding from the Greatest Needs and Opportunities Fund and the Volunteering Services Unit at UCL.

Eleanor Trezise

In total there were 8 volunteers helping, 7 of whom were UCL students, and our task was to assist Aspire (a charity that supports those with spinal injury) with running the activities later that afternoon. During our training with Aspire we were made to question our perceptions of what defines a disability.

After training, we headed to Talacre Sports Centre in Kentish Town. In the afternoon we helped Aspire run the activities, as well as trying them out for ourselves. The first parasport we tried was Boccia, which requires a lot of skill and concentration. It is played with two teams and to start a white target ball, known as a ‘jack’, is rolled along the court. Then, taking it in turns, players must propel their own balls towards the jack, aiming to get them as close to it as possible. The team with the closest ball to the jack wins. In the Paralympics it is mainly played by those with cerebral palsy and related locomotor conditions. Adults with young children found this the most accessible game, so if we couldn’t convince parents to play sitting volleyball or wheelchair basketball, they at least tried out this activity. You can watch the game in action here

Boccia

The next activity in the hall was sitting volleyball. It has one simple modification of the popular sport volleyball: all players must sit down on the court instead of standing up and a part of players’ bodies between the shoulders and the buttocks must be in contact with the court at all times. It is also played on a smaller court than volleyball. It is one of the fastest-paced parasports you will see at the Paralympic Games. All ages enjoyed this activity as its pace and simple rules make it very accessible and fun to everyone. You can watch the game in action here

Finally we tried the most popular parasport: wheelchair basketball. All the adults, teenagers and younger participants were keen to try it out, as were many of the volunteers. It is broadly similar to basketball with the basket being of the same height, the scoring being identical and so on. The exception is that all players are in wheelchairs. Watch the game in action here

Wheelchair basketball

Overall the day was a great success with 30 participants in total, the majority being from the local community. The day provided a great platform for trying out parasports and developing both participants’ and volunteers’ awareness of disabilities. I believe we successfully challenged the perception that being disabled can prevent a person from partaking in sports. It also helped to raise UCL and UCLU’s profile within the Camden community. I received many positive comments from the participants who attended and volunteers who helped out at the event.

We are incredibly grateful to all those who support the Greatest Needs and Opportunities Fund for helping to make this day a reality. The grant we received went towards the price of venue hire, coaching during the day, training of the volunteers, equipment hire and transport of the equipment to the event. Additional funds provided by the Volunteering Services Unit further contributed towards the venue hire and promotion of the event through flyers and posters that were spread throughout the Bloomsbury campus. We look forward to holding another event like this in the future!

Eleanor Trezise, Second Year Natural Sciences MSci

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The Volunteering Services Unit (VSU) is a joint project between UCL and UCLU and is one of the largest student volunteering departments in the UK. The VSU exists to connect UCL students with rewarding volunteering opportunities across London. The VSU works with hundreds of enthusiastic students and with lots of inspiring community organisations here in the most diverse city in the world. You can find out more about the VSU here


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