Young people prepare to shine at Devon's biggest ability youth spectacle

Over three hundred young people from schools right across Devon will be converging on the Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple on Wednesday 31st January for the Devon Ability Games.

It’s the biggest inclusive sporting spectacle in the county providing a unique opportunity for children with a wide range of abilities to take part in sporting competitions and taster sessions.

Not just one, but two sporting champions will be in attendance on the day who will help to inspire the young people to be the very best they can be and promote the 6 core principles of the Spirit of the Games – Teamwork, Self belief, Honesty, Passion, Respect and Determination.

This is Matti Hemmings’ second time as sporting ambassador. He is a professional Flatland BMX rider, UK Champion and 3 times Guinness World Record holder. Matti will be wowing the assembled young people with his two wheeled trickery as they watch his jumps, turns and daring escapades at the opening ceremony.

Nikki Carter is brand new to the role of sporting champion and has two high level but very polar opposite sports under her belt – she was ranked 5th in the world at the senior Irish dancing championships 2017 and is a Powerlifter! Nikki began Irish dancing at the age of 8 and became part of the international phenomenon Riverdance. She is part of the Guinness World Record for the longest line of Riverdance and she is also currently the British Champion for powerlifting.

"I am extremely excited to be part of the Devon Ability Games and think it is important to ensure sport and physical activity are accessible for all" said Nikki. “We are all born as equals and we all the power within to achieve anything”.

The Devon Ability Games is all about promoting a positive relationship between sport and disability.

“When you have a disability it’s all about what you can do, not what you can’t” said Lisa Alford from Active Devon who organise the event with the support of the School Sports Partnerships.

“Our sporting champions will be cheering on the young people at the Ability Games as they take part in a range of sporting competitions and try out unusual taster activities like fencing and street surfing!”

The hottest inclusive sports festival in the county promises to be a colourful and noisy spectacle with around 70 young leaders swelling the ranks, some able bodied, some disabled, who have been hand-picked by schools around North Devon. They are a vital part of officiating and running many of the activities and the Ability Games provide a wonderful platform for them to learn about leadership, communication and the power of inclusiveness in sport.

The opening ceremony begins at 10.15 with a number of opening acts set to wow the assembled young people including Matti Hemmings and his BMX tricks, Nikki and a group of Irish dancers from North Devon and, adding some comedy and variety into the mix, will be Magician, Dave Hendy. The young people taking part, over 300 of them, are from Special Schools and Mainstream SEN across the county and this event provides them invaluable experience of trying out and competing in sport for enjoyment, for personal reward and for a team. 

The statistics around disability and sport are stark. 53% of those people in Devon that have a disability do not reach the Chief Medical Officer's recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of activity per week, so the Local School Games organising Committee that arrange the event in association with Active Devon, know that it is vital to inspire youngsters early with lifelong active habits.

Competitive sports on offer on Wednesday include Sitting Volleyball, New Age Curling, Table Cricket, Archery and Primary Festival.

Matt Evans the Chief Executive of Active Devon, one of the key organising partners said: “The Devon Ability Games is firmly established as one of the highlights in the annual calendar for school sport in Devon. It is a fantastic day which is hugely inspirational. Not only does it help young people who often experience real challenges to getting active but it is largely delivered with the help and support of young people as leaders, officials and event deliverers. Active Devon is really proud to be part of the Local Organising Committee which helps the Devon Ability Games to take place”.

The Devon Ability Games is part of a programme of four Countywide School Games multi-sport festivals in Devon, delivered by Active Devon on behalf of the Devon School Games Local Organising Committee.

For further information please contact Active Devon on 01392 925150