Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus played host to the Ayrshire Sportsability Festival of Sport for the first time last week.
Ayrshire Sportsability’s Festival of Sport is organised in partnership with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, the three local councils, KA Leisure, Scottish Disability Sport, and sportscotland. The week-long event took place from 2 October and gave over 500 pupils and adults from across Ayrshire the opportunity to try out a wide variety of disability sports. Sport and Fitness students at Ayrshire College have been involved with the annual Festival of Sport event for years, overseeing each station of sport available to the groups. Young people with disabilities were invited to the College to try out sports that they may not usually have access to. These included martial arts, cycling with all-ability bikes, rugby, volleyball, and boccia – an activity similar to bowls. External partners Netball Scotland, Louise Renicks, Senjokai Karate, Kilmarnock Harriers, Trust Rugby, Active Travel Hub and Kilmarnock Football Club delivered some of the activities on offer, while Sport and Fitness students at the College were on hand to assist and offer their coaching expertise throughout the week. The boccia station was predominantly handled by current Scotland boccia stars Ross Munro and Reegan Stevenson and former Ayrshire College student, now coach, Bernadette Leslie. Former Ayrshire College student Kayleigh Haggo, a gold medal winner at the European Paralympic Youth Games who has set 13 world records in swimming, race running and club throw sports, was also a coach at the Festival of Sport. Kilmarnock FC players Kirk Broadfoot, Eamonn Brophy, Stuart Findlay and Alan Power were the special guests on Wednesday, dropping by to interact with the pupils at various stations. Wai-yin Hatton, co-founder of Ayrshire Sportsability and former Ayrshire College board member said, “The aim of Ayrshire Sportsability is to promote and provide sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. We want to encourage participation in physical activities as well as develop pathways for those wishing to progress to podium level performance. Support from schools, local clubs and our partners have made this event a success year-on-year.” Stuart Findlay, defender at Kilmarnock Football Club, said “It's always great to help the kids out and see a smile on their faces. We enjoyed it as well, the kids just bring life to it and it makes you happy to help." Reegan Stevenson said “It’s important for us to showcase boccia. It’s been great to show the pupils how to play the sport, but also the volunteers from schools and the College, who will now be able to deliver sessions in boccia going forward. The more people who get involved, the better.” John McTaggart, Curriculum Manager for Sport and Fitness at Ayrshire College, said “Ayrshire Sportsability’s Festival of Sport is a key event in our calendar as it’s a highlight of our students’ year. The students gain so much from the experience and are inspired by the effort and enthusiasm displayed by all of the pupils participating.” Katelyn Wilson, Community Impact Officer at Netball Scotland, said “We’re offering more accessible options for young people with disabilities. Walking netball, similar to walking football, is what we’ve been showcasing here. I’ve got so much out of coaching the wonderful participants at Ayrshire Sportsability and hopefully we’ve helped them.” Karen Little, Teacher at Dalmilling Primary School, said “We had sore mouth muscles from smiling all day watching the children have such fun in trying out all the different sports available. We loved the fact that our children as well as the Ayrshire College students were all cheering each other on to succeed which gave the whole event a wonderful atmosphere.”