The Sussex Parallel Youth Games - a flagship, Paralympic style event for young people with disabilities across Sussex is THE event in the schools calendar for the students from 15 specials schools that take part each year, as well as the 100+ young leaders and adult volunteers who help make the Games happen.
After 11 years at the Triangle Burgess Hill, the Games had grown to its capacity and so for the first time this year was held at K2 Crawley, operated by Freedom Leisure on behalf of Crawley Borough Council – a much larger Centre, on Wednesday 7 June 2017. Over 300 schoolchildren from across Sussex took part in and celebrated the 12th annual disability sports event.
Students from 15 special schools - Angmering School, Downs Park (Brighton), Glyne Gap (Bexhill-on-Sea), Grove Park (Crowborough), Hamilton Lodge (Brighton), Hazel Court (Eastbourne), Ingfield Manor (Billingshurst), Manor Green (Crawley), Northease Manor (East Sussex), Oak Grove (Worthing), Parastars (Burgess Hill), Patcham House (Brighton), St Anthonys (Chichester), St Marys (Bexhill-on-Sea) & Woodlands Mead (Burgess Hill) - participated in various sports including: Boccia, New Age Kurling, Swimming, Cricket, Tennis and Golf, with the opportunity to attend a dance workshop and perform at the closing medal ceremony too.
The top three schools in each event were then presented with medals at an Olympic-style award ceremony.
A participant from Angmering School said “I’ve had a really good day and I particularly enjoying the dance workshop. I really look forward to this event because people with conditions like ours (visual impairment) are usually excluded from sporting events but the Parallel Youth Games is fully accessible and lots of fun.”
Athletes were cheered on by Katie-George Dunlevy, fresh-back from Rio 2016, Katie is a Paralympic Gold and Silver medallist winner in the sport of tandem cycling.
Katie gave a motivational talk to the participants as part of the opening ceremony. She said, “It’s really important to promote disability sport and today’s Games showcase just how brilliant it is. Sport has given me so many life skills from learning how to be proactive to working as part of a team, it’s also hugely developed my mental wellbeing and confidence.
Freedom Leisure is extremely proud to be a key corporate partner of this wonderful event and to have hosted this year’s games at K2 Crawley. More than just a leisure centre operator, we pride ourselves on enabling active communities, and the 12th annual Sussex Parallel Youth Games was bigger and better than ever – a truly inspirational day.Ivan Horsfall-Turner, Managing Director of Freedom Leisure
I found school quite a difficult time due to my visual impairment, but finding a love for sport really helped me. I encourage you all to find something you love doing and stick with it. Training is often hard, but in the end, the hard work always pays off!”
A number of key partners helped Active Sussex organise the Sussex Parallel Youth Games, including: Freedom Leisure, Crawley Borough Council, and Sport without Boundaries, Sussex County Swimming Association, Sussex County Cricket Club, The Tennis Foundation, England Golf and The Golf Foundation.
The Games also relies heavily on the goodwill of a large group of 'Young Leader' volunteers from local schools and School Games Organisers, who we thank for their support.
Beth, a Young Leader from nearby St Paul’s Catholic College said, “The Parallel Youth Games is a real feel-good event, seeing schoolchildren with a variation of disabilities just having fun whilst playing sport is really heart-warming.”