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‘Best day of my life!’: Rave reviews for first Orkney para-sport festival

School boy holding a rugby ball.
Children and young people aged between five and 18 with Downs Syndrome or physical impairments got a chance to try their hand at an array of sports. Photo by Orkney Photographic

Sometimes, there’s nothing more fun than whacking a balloon with a badminton racket.

The first Orkney Para-sport festival was held on Friday, 25 March at the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall.

At the festival, children and young people aged between five and 18 with Downs Syndrome or physical impairments got a chance to try their hand at an array of sports. Boccia, badminton, kayaking and rugby were just some of the sports on offer.

The event was part of a local initiative to eliminate disabilities as barriers to participating in community events.

And the athletes themselves gave glowing reviews, with one calling it the “best day of my life!”

Orkney Para-sport Festival, first of its kind

The para-sport festival was supported by Scottish Disability Sport, with help from the council and local sports groups. Orkney’s new charity for children with additional needs, Inclusive Orkney, also got involved with the flagship event.

Karin Spence, who launched Inclusive Orkney in November, said that it is important to give children with additional needs spaces where they can be full participants.

A child smiling while playing rugby at the Orkney Para-sport festival
Rugby was one of the favourites on offer at Friday’s festival. Photo by Orkney Photographic

“We are delighted to see the council continue to build sporting provision for children with additional needs.

“The Para-sport festival was the first-ever in Orkney which shows the strides we are taking to be more inclusive and cater for all.”

One parent was grateful to the event for highlighting children’s differences as a cause for celebration, not a barrier.

First of many?

Thanks to positive reviews, this may not be the last we see of the Orkney Para-sport Festival.

Leisure and culture services manager, Garry Burton, said that the event was meant to showcase opportunities available to children with additional needs or disabilities.

Photo by Orkney Photographic

Getting active is just one of the benefits of an event like the Orkney Para-sport Festival, he 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.”

A child playing balloon badminton at the Orkney Para-sport Festival
Balloon badminton was one of the sports on offer at Friday’s festival. Photo by Orkney Photographic

Rachael Suttie, Active Schools Coordinator (Inclusion) in Orkney said that sport was just one part of the day.

“With children from various schools across the county, it was fantastic to see the success in the festival with children engaged in a wide range of activities, meeting new people, learning new skills and most importantly having fun.

“This was Orkney’s first para-sport festival and it definitely won’t be the last.”

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