WheelAir's Trip to WheelPower
Last week, our CEO Corien went to the charity WheelPower at Stoke Mandeville Stadium to show them the WheelAir cooling backrest cushion for wheelchairs.
Whilst she was there, she was given a tour around the sports complex. It was bustling with activity. People of all ages and abilities were getting involved in a large variety of sports – from archery to dancing!
Experiencing this charity in action first hand emphasised to us how important WheelPower are for helping disabled people partake in sports.
Therefore, this blog post gives a little historical background on this great charity, what they do now and a bit of insight into what the future holds for WheelAir and WheelPower.
WheelPower – where it all began
WheelPower’s headquarters is often referred to as ‘the home of wheelchair sport.’ It is where the Paralympic movement was born, at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in England. The Stadium developed as a result of of the Stoke Mandeville Games, which was the forerunner to the Paralympic Games. The Stoke Mandeville Games were founded by a German born Neurosurgeon called Sir Ludwig Guttmann, an expert in Spinal Cord Injuries.
Guttmann recognised how important sport could be for helping injured soldiers build up physical strength. Not only this, but it could improve their mental health. Therefore, on the 28th of July, he organised the first Stoke Mandeville Games. The games coincided with the start of the London 1948 Summer Olympics. Eventually they were renamed the Paralympics!
Since the Stoke Mandeville Stadium was opened by the Queen in 1969, men, women and children with disabilities have been welcomed to this centre for excellence to play sport. WheelPower formed in 1972 and developed a range of sports activities to help encourage and promote wheelchair sport.
A £10.3m refurbishment in 2003 transformed the historic centre into an advanced leisure complex. This means WheelPower have full access to this high quality venue with bespoke facilities and equipment for wheelchair users. But it isn’t just wheelchair users that can use the stadium, it can be used by people of all abilities!
What WheelPower do for the disabled community
Following in their founder Guttmann’s footsteps, WheelPower now work to encourage as many people into wheelchair sport as possible. Then they support them on their athletic journey! They have links with up to 35 different sports, including hand-cycling, wheelchair rugby and fencing (to name a few).
WheelPower are in the position to offer this service because they are master fundraisers. They offer support and ideas to those who wish to raise money for the charity. Last year they raised a huge £1.3 million, almost all of which was invested straight back into wheelchair sport.
As well as supporting external fundraising, they put on events of all types. Either large annual affairs (for example The Tour De Vale Bike Ride in June) or small fundraisers (like a curry night).
If you fancy getting involved in sport or fundraising then take a look at their website – there is loads going on!
WheelPower and WheelAir
At WheelAir, we really believe in the work of this inspiring charity. So a WheelAir is going to be available for trial at Stoke Mandeville very soon.
We believe the WheelAir could improve the sports experience for wheelchair users. Currently, many have to cool themselves in a number of unforgiving ways: using water hoses, wet towels or water sprays.
The WheelAir offers an unobtrusive alternative to this. It actively cools the wheelchair users’ back with air using silent fan technology. Staying cool before, during and after sport will ensure they are able to achieve their best performance and, most importantly, have the most fun.
Oliver Buncombe, Sports Development Officer from WheelPower, says:
“WheelPower is a charity with a fantastic history of innovation and development in wheelchair sport. We are constantly striving to provide people with the best opportunities and equipment possible. I see WheelAir as an important innovation in wheelchair technology with many practical applications. These will be beneficial for individuals who attend my camps and events.
In a sporting context the ability for someone to regulate their body temperature is crucial, for some individuals due to their impairment this is not possible. With WheelAir the opportunity to quickly and comfortably cool participants who overheat and then reincorporate them back in to the activity will be fantastic. Especially when compared to the previous practices of a wet towel!
I look forward to using WheelAir during my future events to assist and maintain peoples inclusion in sport.”
We are planning on coming along with a number of WheelAir’s to future WheelPower events, including the Inter-spinal Unit Games in April. Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media for updates.