Beneficiaries, News/Blog

Sports club for children with disabilities returns thanks to funding from Simon’s Heroes

Local fundraising group, Simon’s Heroes, has teamed up with Wilnecote Community Leisure Centre to re-launch a popular community project that gives disabled children and their siblings the wonderful opportunity of participating in sporting activities.

Heroes’ Haven, formerly known as Inspire multi-sports club, is a free-of-charge, fortnightly club for disabled children and their siblings up to 18 years of age.  It is hosted by Wilnecote Community Leisure Centre and comprises of an hour of swimming and a further hour in the sports hall, where children can enjoy soft play, trampolining, football and fun on a bouncy castle and other inflatables.

Originally launched in 2011, the scheme was funded through Sports Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (SASSOT), a countywide partnership that links together local providers of sport and physical activity. Key partners include Local Authorities, schools, sports clubs, Public Health and volunteers, with the aim of connecting and engaging local communities to become more active and achieve their potential.

Sadly, funding for the Inspire sessions ceased in 2017, however since then, Wilnecote Community Leisure Centre has been able to continue funding the swimming sessions through its own means, but was unable to cover the fees associated with the sports hall activities.

Michelle Bagshaw, parent of one of Simon’s Heroes’ beneficiaries, used to attend the sessions with her daughter. She, along with another parent, Lucy Smith, recently met with Mike Stevenson, Operations Manager at Wilnecote Community Leisure Centre, to discuss the possibilities of resurrecting the project.

Michelle said: “We were really keen to re-establish the sports hall sessions. They gave parents and carers the opportunity to meet and chat to families in similar circumstances and watch their children enjoy themselves without the worry of being misunderstood. They provided an opportunity for children with special needs to socialise and enjoy some fun with their siblings too.

“As a parent of a child with special needs I understand first-hand how isolating life can become and the genuine fear of how your child might be perceived in a mainstream environment. It puts some people off going out altogether! I regularly attended these sessions with Ruby and her brother, they were really popular, with a wide range of different ages and disabilities in attendance; all local children, most weeks reaching a maximum capacity of up to 35 in the water session and around 40-45 in the soft play session.

“Simon’s Heroes have made a huge difference to our Ruby and have carried out so much life-changing work in the local community, so I approached them to see if they could help.”

Kelly Prescott, trustee of Simon’s Heroes, said: “Simon’s Heroes was only too happy to provide the funding needed to bring the sports hall sessions back. This was a great opportunity for us to make a difference to many families in the local community. We could see the value of it and the positive impact it would have.

“The first session took place on 18th January and it was really well attended. It was wonderful to see the children enjoying all of the facilities and having fun.”

Mike Stevenson, Operations Manager, Wilnecote High School, said: “We are delighted to have Simon’s Heroes on board. We were so disappointed when the funding was cut in 2017 because we had witnessed the benefits and opportunities it had provided to local families. It was a valued service, which has been sorely missed.

“Of course, these sessions would also not be possible without the support of our fantastic group of volunteers, who are dedicated to the cause and help make them a success.”

Wilnecote Community Leisure Centre really is at the heart of the community and is also home to Wilnecote Unicorns FC, a disability football club, which trains on Tuesday evenings, as well as Tamworth Unicorns Swimming Club for Disabled Persons, which meets fortnightly.

For further information about Heroes’ Haven multi-sports club, or to pre-book a session, call Wilnecote Community Leisure Centre on 01827 831333. Lines are open between 4pm and 10pm, Monday to Friday.

Author: C Abbott.



Related Posts