Accessible achievement celebrated at Paralympic Personal Bests
SEVERAL hundred people with learning and physical disabilities have come together in Winchester for a unique one-day sporting event.
Paralympic Personal Bests (ParaPB), which took place on Thursday 14 September at Winchester Sport and Leisure Park and in the University of Winchester stadium, offered the opportunity to take part in multiple sporting activities including squash, cricket, track athletics and yoga.
The event, which was first organised in 2012 after being inspired by the success of that year’s London Paralympic Games, was hosted by Winchester Go LD and Winchester City Council in partnership with Everyone Active and the University of Winchester, with main event sponsor Simplyhealth, planning input from Santander and trophies donated by Osborne Property Services.
ParaPB was also supported by a host of volunteers and sports coaches, and a number of organisations signed up to offer volunteers on the day including Santander, Strategic Solutions Financial Services, Brewin Dolphin and Osborne Property Services.
Awards were presented by The Mayor of Winchester Cllr Angela Clear and 20-year-old swimmer Maisie Summers-Newton, a double Paralympic, World, European and Commonwealth champion in S6 events, who said: “It’s incredible to be here today to see how far para sport has come and how successful this event is - the numbers here are so impressive, as is the range of sport on offer. It’s such an achievement to show people what you can do, whether that is just catching a ball or doing a lap of the athletics track.
“I spoke to one young girl who told me that she wasn’t previously interested in sport but that being at Paralympic Personal Bests and competing in everything has been inspirational for her; it shows what it can achieve for everybody.”
Participating organisations included: Winchester Go LD, Minstead Trust, QE2, Reach Out Caring, James’ Place Eastleigh and Basingstoke, Gosport Community Link, MCD Care Clients, Keystone Havant, Teals, The Grow Project, The Boaz Project, Osborne School, Peter Symonds College, Solent Stormers, Parkside, Creating Chaos and Windward.
Chief executive of Winchester Go LD Betty Chadwick said: “All the participants bring so much enthusiasm, energy, joy and courage with them to this really special annual event - it's a real privilege to be involved in the ParaPB team in making the event so special.
“We're thrilled that many other local learning disability organisations take part. Sport plays such an important role in supporting both physical and mental wellbeing - the ear-to-ear smiles across participant and volunteer faces at the event demonstrates how valuable sport and friendship is to us all."
Winchester City Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Engagement Cllr Kathleen Becker added: “This inclusive and accessible event is now in its eleventh year and it has built to become a fantastic fixture in the district’s sporting calendar. It’s also become a hugely popular volunteering experience, with many returning to help year-after-year.
“It is even more impressive to consider how ParaPB has encouraged participation in year-round regular exercise, with participants becoming inspired to move on to other local events such as Parkrun.”
Alison Lewis, Area Contract Manager at Everyone Active, said: "This year's ParaPB has been nothing short of brilliant. Witnessing so many people come together, get actively involved and have fun was truly amazing. It's a testament to the power of sports to unite and inspire individuals of all abilities.
“ParaPB has become a cherished tradition and it reflects our commitment to providing accessible leisure opportunities for all members of the community. We are so proud to be a part of this incredible event and look forward to continuing our partnership and supporting it for years to come."
Helen Thomas, Sports Facilities Manager at the University of Winchester, said: “The University runs numerous athletics competitions and community events at the Sports Stadium, but this is one of the most rewarding; seeing the enjoyment on the faces of the participants, whilst offering them different sporting experiences.
“A large amount of work goes on behind the scenes by the ParaPB planning committee to make sure that it is a successful and well organised event, bringing together so many people; participants, carers, volunteers, coaches, charity and facility staff. The University of Winchester looks forward to continuing to support this event and being part of its continued success.”
Winchester Go LD is a registered charity which works to enable adults with learning disabilities to live life to the full. Find out more.