Islington moves to secure Paralympic legacy with new disability sport scheme
PUBLISHED: 15:20 12 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:26 12 August 2015
Steve Bainbridge Photography Ltd
Islington has launched an ambitious riposte to concerns about London’s Paralympic legacy.
On Thursday, Islington Council unveiled “All in Islington”, a borough-wide project to get disabled people active by increasing the availability of disability sports ranging from badminton to pilates.
It comes after six-time Paralympic champion David Weir said interest in disability sport could “die”. He claimed it is not marketed well enough after 20,000 people turned up to the recent Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium – down from 60,000 in 2013.
But Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing, said at Thursday’s launch at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium: “David Weir could be right about needing more promotion, but in Islington we are doing our bit. This is not something we have just come up with. We have been pro-active for a long time. It proves disability sport is not dying out in Islington.”
The £400,000 project, which has been organised with a number of charities, has funding for three years. And Cllr Burgess wants to ensure it remains in the long term.
“If this works out, it will get more funding and go beyond the three years. It’s up to us to make sure it’s successful. If it isn’t, it will be a real shame.”
She added: “The dream would be to help create a future Paralympic champion from Islington.”
Three Islington disabled groups were invited to Thursday’s launch. Members were able to try out specially adapted bikes that will be used for cycling sessions outside the Emirates every Thursday.
Susanne Bergmann, 58, of the Woodberry Down Estate in Hackney, volunteers with The Elfrida Society, for people with learning difficulties. She said: “We will be able to reach many more people now. One of the barriers people with learning and physical disabilities face is gaining information and access to sports.”
For more information about the scheme and listings of disability sport sessions, visit allinislington.org.uk