Making friends in the holidays

A NEW club for children with disabilities was formally launched in St Ives on Monday at the start of half-term. The Upside Down Sports Club was formed by a group of families which found that, although their youngsters go to mainstream schools, once the ho

A NEW club for children with disabilities was formally launched in St Ives on Monday at the start of half-term.

The Upside Down Sports Club was formed by a group of families which found that, although their youngsters go to mainstream schools, once the holidays start there were no out-of-school holiday clubs geared up to take wheelchairs.

The families said the clubs used helpers who are not trained to lift disabled swimmers, or to play football with youngsters with disabilities.

There are 15 members of the Upside Down Sports Club, so far all boys, aged from four to 18.


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The parents say that, though it is brilliant that their children go to mainstream schools, if they are the only child in a wheelchair in their school, they don't see other children in wheelchairs playing sport or having fun.

Spokesman Catherine Bradley, whose seven-year-old son Jack has cerebral palsy, told The Hunts Post: "Many of us felt that, although are children are doing well at school, they miss out on activities during the holidays and we thought that rather than just moan about it, we would get together and do something."

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The club has the support of Huntingdonshire child physiotherapists and of the charity Whizz Kids.

It is the re-forming of a similar group started in the early 1990s but which dwindled out after about six years.

The Upside Down Club was piloted about 10 months ago and now meets on the first Saturday morning of each month at the St Ivo Indoor Recreation Centre. So far, club activities have included horse-riding, sailing and bowling. At the centre the youngsters play games including wheelchair hockey, which is fast-paced when played by those in electric-powered wheelchairs. The sports sessions are co-ordinated by physiotherapist Fiona Down and disabled coach Mike Santoro from the Whizz Kids Keep on Moving Scheme.

Monday's official launch was an invitation for more youngsters to join and an appeal for more volunteers to get involved.

Another mum, Cathy Ledsham from Eynesbury, whose eight-year-old son is also called Jack, said: "We found that there were not many opportunities for our little boy to participate in activities ,and it wasn't until we went to a Whizz Kids training meeting that we noticed how excited Jack became to see other children enjoying themselves in wheelchairs.

"He really enjoys the sessions now and has grown in confidence as well as making lots of new friends."

INFORMATION: For dates and times of the Upside Club sessions, contact the club chairman, Richard Whitticase on 07923 516663 or e-mail: upsidedownclub@yahoo.co.uk or see www.upsidedownsportsclub.org.uk

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