Every Body Moves formally Parasport, launched their new name and inclusive activity finder for disabled people last month.
The purpose of the event was to give local people in Sheffield with disabilities the opportunity to try a range of inclusive sports.
Baden Knifton from Every Body Moves as well as part of the SE coaching technical panel had the idea to bring Para Nordic Skiing to the event. Alongside Participation Officer and nordic coach, Steph the activity was brought to the launch with great enthusiasm. Fern Cates, Snowsport Scotlands Para Nordic coach led the sessions on the day alongside Steph. The team even had a sit ski to make the sessions even more inclusive.
Some 150 people with a range of disabilities attended the event, with the opportunity to try out a massive range of sports across the English Institute of Sport building. From archery to boxing to tennis to para nordic skiing, Snowsport England joined a number of other NGBs and organisations on the day.
The launch was opened by Paralympian, Hannah Cockroft, Every Body Moves CEO, Dave Clarke and Tom Hughes fro Yorkshire Sport. Following a great group warm up, the day was ready to start.
Steph and Fern, were joined by Jade (participation manager) and Yorkshire Dales Cross country ski club (YDCCSC) committee members, Amy and Richard. The day was filled with mixed groups of participants wanting to give para nordic a go. The whole process was an experience for participants from putting on the ski boots for the first time, clipping into the binding and taking the first few glides on rollerskis. Just like with all groups there was a mixture of abilities and the SE team were all there to support the participants, with a bit of technique advice or some encouragement. Some participants made it to the end of the long home straight, whilst some found a few strides to be enough, whatever their level or disability, SE adapted the sessions to be inclusive for everybody.
The Nordic sit ski, was a hit for many of the participants, not just for wheelchair users but also for those with balance issues. This gave participants chance to ‘double pole’ themselves around the space with support from Fern. Josh, one of the participants, was non verbal and started the session off not wanting to wear a helmet or remove his ear defenders. Slowly as he watched his peers moving around on the rollerskis and enjoying themselves, he removed his ear defenders, put on a helmet and communicated that he would like to give the sit ski a go. After getting into the sit ski, he grabbed hold of the poles and keenly set off. This is fantastic in itself but even more astonishingly after speaking with his carers, Steph found out this is the first activity other than drawing that Josh has ever shown interest in. SE feel truly honoured that we were able to make this opportunity happen for him.
The team had a truly inspirational day meeting a wide range of participants, who were keen to try a wide range of activities at the event. The event itself should be seen as a starting point for para nordic in England. Yorkshire Dales Cross Country Ski club are the exit route for participants from the event and will be running inclusive training sessions at their venues in York and Leeds. SE Nordic Futures also welcome those participants with disabilities from age 8-18.
Overall, the main learnings from the day are to adapt sessions for the different requirements of the participants as one would with any coaching session. Speak to the participants and see what they would prefer to do, allow participants to watch rather than take part, particularly initally if needed and most of all make sure it is suitable and fun.
For more information about SE Adaptive awareness courses, please contact [email protected]
YDCCSC for sessions in Leeds and York, please contact [email protected]