Rotary’s Purple4Polio Ambassador British Paralympic wheelchair racer and polio survivor Anne Wafula Strike MBE opened the first ever Rotary East London and Essex Disability Games.
About sixty competitors, aged 18 and over, took part in the event at Ongar Leisure Centre which were free to all participants and were sponsored by 17 Rotary clubs, including Redbridge, Barkingside, Leytonstone and Woodford, Chingford and Roding, and Epping Forest District Council.
Anne Wafula Strike said: “We have got an opportunity and a chance to participate in sport today. ”
“So sport is very important. I just really want you to enjoy, have fun, make new friends but also try to be a little bit competitive because that is what life is. You know you have to be competitive. So do your best, do your very best but have fun,” she said.
The sports were all indoor activities and included Boccia, bowls, table tennis, darts, bagatelle, stick ball, quoits, wheelchair slalom and New Age Kurling. The day concluded with a medals ceremony.
Sport is very important. I just really want you to enjoy, have fun, make new friends but also try to be a little bit competitive because that is what life is.”
Other dignitaries attending the Games included Rotarian Michael Chapman, Deputy Lieutenant of Essex; Councillor Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council; Alex Burghart, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar; and District Governor for Rotary in London, Mike Wren, and District Governor for Rotary in Essex, Lesley Sulley.
MP Alex Burghart said: “As you’ll know Disability Games is something that our country excels in and Anne is one of our champions in this area.
“Britain is the second most successful country in the whole history of the Paralympics.
“We also have some of the most extraordinary training facilities and engagement programmes, so what we are seeing from the Rotarians today is part of bringing that emphasis into the community and giving opportunities to as many people as possible.”
Before the medals ceremony, members of the Chelmsford-based High Rollers Wheelchair Basketball Club gave a demonstration and then took on some of the participants for a lively game of wheelchair basketball.