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Cambridge University Athletics Club PowerHouseGames- a Triumph for Flexibility and Fun!

On Friday 19th April Cambridge University’s Athletics Club held its inaugural PowerHouseGames at the University Sports Centre.

One of Power2Inspire’s mantras is to be flexible and to adapt, which turned out to be pretty useful when only six students turned up from an anticipated 24! All had ample excuses – it was before the start of term, the need to do revision (or should that be ‘vision’) before exams, and the allure of returning to Cambridge early for pre-season, warm-weather training was clearly dashed by our wonderful cold, wet April weather.

Regardless, we were relieved to be indoors and ready for a great morning.

So how did we cope? We adapted. The usual 12 twelve teams of 5 became 6 teams of 7, each led by a student, gloriously decked out in pink. The six teams played three games before the snack break – goalball, sitting netball and ‘throwing’ – and three after the break, sitting volleyball, new age kurling and boccia.

Each team comprised two students from each of Impington Village College, Ivel Valley Special School and Castle Special School. This meant we had four disabled students for the first time in each team, which led to different learning as they had to socialise in a different manner.

Although I thought it was quieter than usual, the feedback was very positive, Wendy Chandler of Ivel Valley commenting that the peace this created suited some of her pupils better.

Paul Sanwell, our superb volunteer photographer – do enjoy the photos from him here! – noted that one lad he had witnessed last time being reticent, threw himself into all the activities this time. Another greeted me at the close as a friend, thanking me for making the event possible.

David Ellis, stalwart volunteer, oiled the wheels and kept the momentum and enthusiasm. He was particularly encouraging for the sitting netball which was enthusiastically competitive.

It was Andrew Langford of Castle’s first visit – he brought a group of sixth formers. He loved the event and the opportunity it creates for his students to get involved in activities that they are normally excluded from.

Reflecting on a slight reduction of space (part of the hall was closed off for maintenance – thanks to Ellis Maloney less than the builders said they needed!) and to honour the Athletics Club, we tried ‘throwing’.  Madness, you cry, as we were indoors.  But foam javelins, plastic skittles masquerading as clubs for the Paralympics Club Throw (thrown backwards from a seat) and a bean bag target game, were all really successful.  By my reckoning the record throws for the foam javelin and club were set for the Centre at these games!

The University students were most enthusiastic afterwards but advised an earlier date in the academic year to avoid the dropouts! There is certainly the appetite for a repeat so watch this space. A big thank you to Ikechi Mere, a blue also in rugby, whose joy at participating in a Rugby Club PowerHouseGames, prompted this one.

As I said to the select group of students who did come, in years to come they will be able to say they were at the first ever CU Athletics Club PowerHouseGames!

What are PowerHouseGames?

PowerHouseGames are incredible sports days using adapted games and sports, with activities designed to be accessible and fun for everyone, old and young, with disabilities and none, sporty and not. Participants are encouraged to test their beliefs about ability and disability and what it is to be different, to learn to respect other people’s differences, and Power2Inspire works with them to challenge their assumptions of what they can and cannot do.

Inspired? Then Get Involved!

Would your university sports team, or school love to be involved in a PowerHouseGames? Could your company support our mission by volunteering at one of our PowerHouseGames? If so, then we would love to hear from you. We are also always looking out for people willing to fundraise for Power2Inspire through their own inspiring means. Or, you could volunteer individually at one of our events, or you could give to the ongoing work of Power2Inspire. There are SO MANY WAYS we can all help to ensure “no on else is left on the bench!” Click the button here to find out more.

John Willis

Founder & Chief Ambassador, Power2Inspire

Special thanks again to Paul Sanwell of OP Photography for his fantastic photography on the day. All photos used with permission