Tennis: Valence pupils enjoy disability event
PUBLISHED: 14:30 14 November 2017
Ady Kerry / AK Pictures
Pupils from Barking & Dagenham’s Valence Primary School joined other youngsters from across the capital at London 2012 legacy venue Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre for their annual disability tennis event.
Dozens of disabled schoolchildren were welcomed to the indoor tennis courts to enjoy and participate in a variety of tennis related drills and activities as part of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s Schools Festivals programme.
Youngsters aged between 7-11 years old from across the pan-disability spectrum - all of whom have been diagnosed with one or more intellectual
disability, and/or sensory and physical impairment such as autism, ADHD, deafness and Celebral Palsy – were guided by the venue’s specially trained tennis coaches and introduced to four tennis themed activity areas, each equipped with lightweight tennis balls, large racquets and training
devices to slow down games and help participants develop their coordination skills and ball control.
Accompanied by their teachers and teaching assistants, the young participants were also joined on court by a team of 12 year eight students from The Cumberland School who were tasked with assisting the tennis coaches throughout the event.
Known as Young Leaders, these students volunteer with local organisations to help deliver sports events. In addition to gaining valuable experience, the students learn to positively engage with younger children and develop key leadership skills that contribute towards their own personal development.
Jack Pringle, the event’s organiser and Sports Development Officer at Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said: “A key aim of our Schools Festival programme is to provide local schools with the opportunity to experience playing tennis – as well as other sports such as hockey and cycling – so
that pupils are inspired to continue playing long after our events have finished.
“We designed our Disability Tennis Schools Festival to be inclusive, regardless of a participant’s ability which is why it has been lovely to see lots of happy, smiling faces across our courts – from the pupils, Cumberland’s Young Leaders and our team of tennis coaches.”
Simone Laidlow, Partnership Development Manager at The Cumberland School said: “We enjoy working with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority on various events throughout the year as our students are learning to lead and share their skills with each other. As they progress, they will be able to umpire and officiate at future competitions.
“We lead an inclusive programme at Cumberland School, offering lots of events and opportunities for our pupils. It’s been great to see lots of different schools at today’s event, not just from Newham but from other boroughs. As staff, it’s also been a nice opportunity to see my students flourish in a different environment.”
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre is the venue purpose built for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and hosted the Wheelchair Tennis events.
Five years on from the Games, the venue continues to host disability sports events in addition to offering a range of regular activities and programmes at community level. Sessions include Learning Disability Tennis, Visual Impaired Tennis and a monthly Wheelchair Tennis Masterclass
aimed at getting established players competition ready.
For more information about Lee Valley Regional Park, its venues and the range of disability sports available offer across the 10,000 acre destination, head to visitleevalley.org.uk.