Success at UK’s biggest athletics event for blind children
Around 150 visually impaired youngsters, aged between 4 and 16, competed in the UK’s biggest athletics event for blind children, in Sheffield, run by Action for Blind People and sponsored by Boots Opticians, on Saturday, 22 September.
The budding athletes are all members of Actionnaires clubs for blind and partially sighted children, run by Action for Blind People. Representing towns and cities from across the North of England and the Midlands, the children took part in a variety of track and field activities – including long jump, javelin and sprint events – at the prestigious English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
Lesley Inganni, Development Manager at Action for Blind People, said: “The children were so excited about the event, as many don’t get to participate in sport at all outside of their local Actionnaires clubs. It was an opportunity to sample a range of sports for the first time, helping them to understand that sight loss isn’t a barrier to fun, competitions and social activities.
“This was the sixth year that the event has taken place. We’re extremely grateful to have Boots Opticians as sponsor, and the support of British Blind Sport, with some of their young members joining our Actionnaires in the athletics. Every year it gets bigger and better and we were delighted to return to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. You never know, these children could be Paralympians of the future.”
Richard Edwards, Director of Professional Services, Boots Opticians, said: “We were delighted to be sponsoring this event again and our colleagues were extremely excited about sharing in the fantastic day.”
Billy Smith (7) from Sheffield (Crosspool), who attends Lydgate Junior School: “It was a brilliant day. I made friends with other children and found out that because they can’t see well, many don’t get chances to take part in sport outside local Actionnaires clubs. That’s why this event is so special.”
Lydia Wrightson (10) from Pocklington:
“The Paralympic Games made me want to do sport. I was at the stadium in London when Oscar Pistorius won his gold medal and I met the captain of Team GB’s blind football team. Now I’m competing at a major event too.”
The Actionnaires clubs are open to blind and partially sighted children aged 4-16, providing opportunities for them to develop their fitness and artistic skills, while encouraging self-confidence and social interaction. Actionnaires is one of Action for Blind People’s services for children and young people, which also include access to information, activity breaks, support groups for parents and help with assistive technology.