EFDS celebrate role in champions' lives

Today the London 2012 Paralympic Games begin and the English Federation of Disability Sport are proud to have been a part of a large number of participants’ lives. Many athletes, volunteers, officials or workforce who are involved in the Games have been supported by the charity on their road to sporting success.

Over the years, we have been privileged to watch many young disabled athletes turn into international champions through our very own programmes. For the next ten days and many years to come, they will be watched by millions worldwide as they produce some of the best performances in their career.

English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) are the national sports body for disabled people in England. Our vision is that disabled people are active for life. EFDS champions opportunities for disabled people to enjoy sport, supporting the sport and physical activity sectors to be more inclusive.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive of EFDS said:

“We know London promises gold for many. This could be a medal or for others- a golden experience. EFDS are proud to have been an important step in their journey. Dreams can be made in so many ways through sport. We hope to pass the baton for many more to enjoy the same positive experience- for many years to come”.

 

EFDS’s programmes including Playground to Podium and Disability Sport Events have played a part in many athletes’ success. Several Paralympians about to make their debut in the Games were found through the Playground to Podium initiative (P2P). The Sport England initiative delivered over the past four years has provided a means of identifying and supporting potentially talented young disabled athletes. The English Federation of Disability Sport and five National Governing Bodies of sport have worked together on delivering part of the programme, including the County Athlete Assessment Days (CAAD). Three out of many exciting discoveries from the days are Hannah Russell (swimmer), Sophie Kamlish (athlete) and Jamie Carter (athlete).

Meanwhile, EFDS’s events programme has nurtured talent too. Disability Sport Events (DSE) have been instrumental in providing competition and pathways to international achievement. The renowned programme has been delivering participation opportunities for decades. Throughout the years, many swimmers, athletes, table tennis players, boccia champions and many more sports have enjoyed top class events thanks to DSE. Approximately one in four of the ParalympicsGB team has taken part in a DSE competition. 

One of the events provided were the British International Disability Swimming Championships which were the final selection trials for the British team. DSE have witnessed among many successes- Ellie Simmonds MBE competing at her first National Disability Swimming Championships in 2005. We knew she was a talent to be watched then. In Beijing 2008 she claimed two gold medals. We hope London offers the same golden moment.   

Not only have DSE been instrumental in disabled athletes, but they have supported officials and volunteers to further their skills in sport. Among the support staff and Gamesmakers for the Paralympics, will be those who have used the events programme as a platform to learn more about classification, performance and officiating. We are proud to watch them use their experience during the coming days.

Another programme with an impact on the wider Games legacy is the Inclusive Fitness Initiative. The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) was created over a decade ago. It is EFDS’s physical activity programme and currently funded by the Department of Health. It leads the way in providing accessible physical activity and addressing sedentary behaviour among disabled people. IFI now has a national coverage of 400 IFI Mark accredited gym facilities.

For the Paralympic Games, IFI have nominated three InstructAbility students to work with Technogym at the gyms in the Olympic Park. InstructAbility is a ground-breaking project developed by Aspire and YMCAfit, the leading health and fitness training provider, to train disabled people as fitness instructors. What is more- the Paralympians in the village will be working out on IFI accredited equipment too after using similar pieces throughout their training regime. It is hoped more gyms will provide the same inclusive experience, so disabled people can enjoy exercise as and when they wish to.

Two of our staff will be acting as Gamesmakers during the Paralympics. Marie Dixon, Senior Sports Development Manager and Jamie Blair, National Events Coordinator, will be volunteering in the Stadium for the entire Games. This is a once in a lifetime experience for them. 

Finally, we even have a Paralympian among our own EFDS staff. Dan West, our Information and Communications Officer, will make his fifth Games appearance on the field. The Nottingham based athlete won a bronze in Atlanta 1996 in the Shot, in Sydney 2000- a bronze in the Discus. In Athens 2004, he claimed a silver in the Discus.

To all the participants in the Games, whatever role, EFDS wishes you all the best of success in London. We look forward to continuing our support long into the future.

You will be able to spot our own promotional “Pass the Baton” campaign across London Underground stations during the Paralympic period. A striking poster of young disabled athlete- Ben Rowlings- amplifies the strapline- sport is for all.

For more information on EFDS please visit our website: www.efds.co.uk 

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