The project was conceived in the early part of 2012 and was officially launched at Sainsbury’s in Frome that October.
To date the project has helped to finance the opening of three clubs; Yeovil, Glastonbury and Bridgwater. The target is for two further clubs to be opened in 2014; Taunton and Chard.
The cost of setting up each club up is approximately £13,000. This buys 10 chairs at £1,150 each plus VAT (£150 per chair). Alas we cannot obtain these chairs free of VAT as we have to name the user and that can change on a weekly basis.
THE CLUBS AND THE PLAYERS
The established clubs run in the evenings on a weekly basis; Glastonbury on a Monday, Bridgwater on a Tuesday and Yeovil on a Friday. The first inter club competition, between Glastonbury & Yeovil has already taken place.
Results from the clubs are most encouraging.
In Glastonbury, a young lady who had previously not taken part in any sport as she is the only wheelchair user in her school, joined the club and is thriving. She has since been identified as a potential wheelchair sprinter and has been encouraged to take up the sport. We will look to see if we can help towards the finance of her custom made chair as she has shown considerable talent.
Another success at Glastonbury is a disabled student from The Blue School, who has struggled to find suitable local sporting activities and now regularly attends.
Encouragingly, we have also been told of other young people who previously had taken no part in sport, who now attend the Glastonbury club, who feel that their interpersonal skills have greatly increased both on the sports field and in the classroom. This is as successful an outcome to us potential GB stars!
The Bridgwater club is run out of a FE College, and they have shown much interest in what is being done. As a result, four young people from the club have taken an instructors’ course, which we partly funded, and we are hopeful will go out and use this knowledge to teach others.
Our plans for 2014, funding permitting, are to establish clubs in Taunton and Frome. Should we achieve our aim, we will have more teams across the county, more than any other county in the South West and also give us a good basis to create a county team
OUR HERO AWARD GOES TO…
The clubs are set up and maintained in partnership with Jen Slade, Disability Manager at Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership. It is this partnership which has enabled us to achieve the fantastic results so far. We could not have done as well as we have without Jen’s help and advice.
We have been asked to go and talk to Millfield School about the project and hopefully we can build on this possibility.
In the latter part of 2013, chairs were loaned to Strode College and students took part in wheelchair basketball games over the course of a week. We have received a request for a club to be set up at Strode; we have had to decline at present, because we do not have the funding.
We felt at the onset, that this project would take five years to fully come to fruition and we still believe this is the case. Unfortunately, due to the financial climate both in Somerset and the country as a whole, donations have not been as great as we had hoped. However, we do not despair and have every intention of establishing further clubs in 2015 in Chard and Minehead.
We are indebted to our main sponsor The Medlock Charitable Trust for help in getting started and to the High Sheriffs Charity, Crimebeat, TS5C Healthy Living Fund, Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership and individual donations from County Councilors’ Healthy Living Funds and others.