Orkney’s first Para-sport Festival has been hailed a great success by everyone who took part, with one participant saying: “This is the best day of my life!”
The festival was held on Friday 25 March at the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall, providing an opportunity for children and young people aged between 5 and 18, who have a physical, visual or hearing impairment to try new and exciting sports, such as boccia, badminton, athletics, swimming, kayaking and rugby.
An inclusive island
The event was supported by Scottish Disability Sport, with several sport specific specialists delivering activities, including Orkney’s Active Schools team, the Council’s Community Sport Hub Officer, local sporting clubs, and Orkney’s new charity, Inclusive Orkney.
The Council’s Leisure and Culture Services Manager, Garry Burton, said: “The Festival gave young people who took part the chance to try several sports with specific support to them, but it was also a hugely valuable social occasion - and hopefully one that will inspire these young people to strive to be para sporting stars of the future. We also hope it helped highlight to local families the growing opportunities for young people with disabilities here in Orkney.
"This event reflects the ongoing commitment from the Council to work with the community to provide opportunities for people of all abilities to get involved and enjoy the mental and physical benefits sport offers.”
“We’d like to thank Scottish Disability Sport who sent a team to help deliver the Festival alongside our local helpers. A huge thank you also to the new Inclusive Orkney charity and other community members who’ve given us feedback all along and helped make the day a huge success for our young sportspeople.”
Feedback from those involved
Joanne Cairns is the Council's Community Sports Officer: "Orkney’s first parasport festival was a success and it was fantastic to see everyone have so much fun and to have local clubs and Scottish governing bodies involved was great. Thanks must go to Scottish Disability Sport for their support and their funding partners Better Breaks, as well as Badminton Scotland, Orkney Athletic and Running Club, Orkney Rugby Football Club, Orkney Amateur Swimming Club and Kirkwall Kayak Club who delivered fantastic sessions and made the event possible."
“One parent has already written into us to thank us for a ‘superb day’. It was a very special day indeed!’ Feedback like that just puts a smile on your face!”
Kirsty Ewen, Highlands and Islands Regional Manager for Scottish Disability Sport said: "It was great to see so many smiles. Some of our favourite quotes from participants are 'Best day ever!' - 'This is the first time I've ever been in a swimming pool' and 'This is the best day of my life!'"
Rachael Suttie, Active Schools Coordinator (inclusion) said: “With children from various schools across the county, it was fantastic to see the success of the festival with children engaged in a wide range of activities, meeting new people, learning new skills and most importantly having fun.
I’d like to thank the schools who supported us in the run up to the festival and particularly on the day, the support and attendance was greatly appreciated. I think it’s important to recognise the support of schools staff and parents for contributing to the success of the festival.
This was Orkney’s first parasport festival and it definitely won’t be the last”.
Karin Spence, who launched Inclusive Orkney for children with additional needs, said the charity was delighted with the event: “We are delighted to see the council continue to build sporting provision for children with additional needs. The Parasport festival was the first ever in Orkney which shows the strides we are taking to be more inclusive and cater for all. We hope to continue to grow the provision for children with additional needs and their families”.
The Para-sports Festival follows on from inclusive activities devised last summer by the Council as part of the Scottish Government’s Get Into Summer programme, the upcoming Easter ASN (additional support needs) multi-sport sessions, Inclusive Orkney’s weekend clubs, and continuation of training opportunities in Orkney in conjunction with Scottish Disability Sport.
Find out More
- About Scottish Disability Sport
- About Active Schools on Orkney
- About Community Sports on Orkney