Today, with just under two weeks to the Paralympics, Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby, launches its wheelchair rugby campaign – Supporting Tomorrow’s Superstars.
Wooden Spoon aims to raise enough money to buy a rugby wheelchair for every wheelchair rugby club in the UK and Ireland, to encourage more people to get into the sport.
The Government states that there are currently over 10 million disabled people in the UK – 770,000 of these are children. Only 18% of people with a disability are taking part in sport compared 39% of non disabled people.
However, wheelchair rugby offers people with a disability the opportunity to play full contact sport, no matter what their age, ability or gender.
Josh, 13, from Sunderland, who is a key player for the North East Bulls has cerebral palsy. He said: “My condition doesn’t limit me. Wheelchair rugby means I can get stronger and get better. A new wheelchair would help me and other young people. We have so much more to achieve.”
The Disabled Living Foundation estimates that it costs three times as much to raise a disabled child as it does to raise a child without disabilities. Many of the families Wooden Spoon have spoken to have cited costs as a major barrier for getting children and young people with a disability into sport.
Graeme and Caroline Waddell, Josh’s parents, said: “If you are able bodied and going down to your local rugby club, you can just turn up with your boots and that is it. With wheelchair rugby you can’t do that. The chairs are expensive.
“What we love is that it is so inclusive. If you can push your chair, you have a chance of playing.”
Steve Brown, Former GB Wheelchair Rugby Captain said:“Investing in children and young people is not about giving them something to do at the weekend. It gives them confidence that flourishes into every part of their life.”
Jai Purewal, Director of Rugby & Community Investment at Wooden Spoon said: “Our vision at Wooden Spoon is that every child and young person, no matter what their background has access to the same opportunities – through the power of rugby.
“This life-changing campaign will provide young people with disabilities better opportunities to play wheelchair rugby and help positively transform their lives.”
Wooden Spoon aims to raise £95,000 which will enable the charity to buy and distribute 19 wheelchairs to clubs across the UK & Ireland. Zurich is the first corporate supporter to get behind the campaign.