Inspiring children to be active is one of the most powerful things we can do.
Physical activity strengthens bones and muscles, develops fine and gross motor skills, builds confidence and improves the overall physical and mental wellbeing of a child. It is well documented that active children are more likely to be active adults, so ensuring every child has the opportunity to be active is of huge importance.
On 4th July, more than 300 school children took part in this year’s Surrey Para Games and we were lucky enough to attend alongside our exclusive schools partner, ActivAll®.
Founded by MP Jeremy Hunt following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, the Surrey Para Games are now in their sixth year, attracting schools from all over the county. The games are open to school children in years 7-10 with special educational needs and disabilities, and are an opportunity for children to try new sports and activities in a fun and rewarding environment.
Breaking Down Barriers
Half of disabled children do not feel comfortable taking part in sport, with more than a third reporting social stigma as a major barrier. Disabled people are nearly twice as likely to be physically inactive compared with non-disabled people, so removing barriers that prevent disabled people from being active is key – and the Surrey Para Games do just that.
The games were opened by Paralympian Rachel Morris MBE and aspiring Olympian and National Kayaker, Chris Carson.
Rachel explained that "for me this event is incredibly special. It allows children to participate in sport, to be able to start believing in themselves, to meet other people and to do all the things that children in mainstream schools actually take for granted”.
Focussed around six themes; teamwork, respect, passion, honesty, determination and self-belief, the games promote more than just being active.
This year, activities at the Surrey Para Games included boccia, cricket, football, cycling, cricket, rowing, rugby, tennis and sitting volleyball. The children also had the opportunity to use the ActivAll speed and reaction walls and they soon became the most popular activity of the day.
Queues of children waited patiently to have a go on the ActivAll, with many children returning again and again to beat their personal best score. It was particularly rewarding for us to see the children encouraging each other as they played and celebrating when anyone improved on their previous performance.
Teachers observing their pupils on the ActivAlls were astonished by what they saw and were impressed by how easily each child picked up how to use it. One teacher explained that “often, the children in our class do not interact with each other, so to see them talking, encouraging and motivating each other is amazing”.
With Paralympic gold medals in both cycling and rowing, Rachel Morris couldn’t miss out on setting down a high score on the ActivAll (it’s in her competitive nature). She’d already observed how much fun the children had playing on them and after a minute of intense ActivAll action, she could see why – “Every school should have these. The fact you can engage all of these children is fantastic!”.
The Surrey Para Games highlight the importance of giving every child, irrespective of their ability, the opportunity to be active. The whole day was truly inspiring and it was great to be a part of such an amazing event.