Words by Rachel Abbott
Do you remember what it felt like when you first put on that pair of stinky hire kit skates for the first time? Of course you do. For me, that was about 10 months ago. If you ask newbie skaters like myself to describe what that felt like, you’re likely to hear words like “bambi” “clumsy” “foreign” “out of control”. We weren’t born with wheels strapped to our legs, so naturally learning to use them is a completely alien concept; one that requires good coaching, hours of practice, and the right equipment.
There’s also the long term, experienced skaters who, after injury, find themselves having to re-train their body back to using their wheels. This can be a very frustrating and long process, as one skater told me: “When I broke my leg, after the initial shock had worn off and reality set in, I very much doubted my ability to walk let alone get back on skates again. I felt like a huge part of my life had just been taken away from me – not just roller derby but an active lifestyle. I watched practices and games and ended up just crying from frustration.”
As part of our exciting plans for 2015, Central City Rollergirls have decided to support a national charity that also operates in our local area of Birmingham. Whizz-Kidz provide a range of mobility equipment to children with disabilities, to give them independence at home, at school and at play. They also provide wheelchair skills training delivered by a wheelchair user, Ambassador clubs support by volunteers. There is one of these clubs operating monthly in Birmingham.
Did you know that there are an estimated 70,000 disabled children struggling to get a wheelchair that meets all their needs? When I spoke with Vicki Rowles from Whizz-Kidz, she explained to me how the standard NHS wheelchairs are often limiting, uncomfortable and often don’t adapt to the child as they grow – this can cause frustration, and pain for them, as their equipment doesn’t meet their needs. It also can impact on their ability to socialise or take part in sport – heavy manual wheelchairs need a carer to push them – which can be a bit of an issue if you’re 16 and want to hang out with your friends! It would be akin to a skater wearing skates that were the wrong size and shape for your foot; they’d most likely hurt – and they wouldn’t suit your needs.
The wheelchair training is also a key element – they teach the children and young people how to use their manual wheelchairs, or how to operate their electric ones, or even a purpose built sports chair. Can you imagine how much harder it would have been to learn/pass your minimum skills without the support of a coach? How would you have nailed those transitions? What about laterals? These skills are fundamental to skating, as wheelchair skills are so important to these young people, whose mobility is restricted.
We value our wheels, and the mobility they give us. We know that others, like the young people supported by Whizz-Kidz, do not always have the right wheels, which limits their opportunities. Here are a few of the initial ways that Central City Rollergirls are supporting Whizz-Kidz throughout 2015:
- Collection buckets at our games – so dig out that spare change and do something good;
- Free entry to CCR games for young people supported by Whizz-Kidz;
- Promotion of the great work done by Whizz-Kidz.
We really appreciate any help that our fans and supporters can give to help us contribute to the work of Whizz-Kidz – whether its financially, donating a raffle prize or anything else, everything is gratefully received.
Our next game will be on 29th March at Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre and more details can be found here.
Information on disabled access at the venue can be found here.
If you’d like to find out more about the work that Whizz-Kidz do, please visit http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/