July Club of the Month!

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Waveney Gymnastics Club is on a mission to prove that gymnastics is for everybody.

Formed in 1976 in Lowestoft, East Suffolk, the club holds sessions for Parasport athletes of all ages and abilities, with activities for toddlers, adults, one-to-ones and holiday classes. 

Athletes get to train in a world-class facility that has seen the likes of Team GB, Australia and Canada grace its floors since opening the doors to a new gymnasium in 2002.

Disability Inclusion Coordinator Ellen Hutchings has been one of the key people behind the club's growth since she got involved in 2008 and beamed with pride in the increased participation she's seen.

She said: "I started getting involved because my brother is autistic so I would come with him and I got bored of doing my homework outside in the café area. So I started to volunteer at the sessions and the rest is history.

"I wanted to give people with disabilities the same opportunity as anybody else and that's kind of my passion.

"Giving them all the opportunities that they've had, going away to camps and competitions and just seeing them grow as individuals here.

"Gymnastics is for everyone. People tend to see it on the TV and go 'I can't do gymnastics at Olympic level' but it's far more than that.

"You've got things where you can do seated chair-based exercise for people with Dementia and Parkinson's, you've got one-to-one sessions that we do for people with complex needs or behavioural needs.

"It's endless. You can do whatever you need in gymnastics it's just being creative.

"Waveney has been home for me for quite a while and I've just loved seeing how much it's grown and seeing the children and the athletes grow from when they first started."

Poppy Weddle, 12, is just one of many members at Waveney who has reaped the benefits of Parasport inclusion.

Poppy was diagnosed with a sleeping disorder at a young age and began gymnastics at the recommendation of her doctor.

Her talent quickly shone through as the young gymnast made her debut appearance at the Special Olympics Waveney Gymnastics Open event, alongside several other members this month.

She said: "I do gymnastics because when I was younger I got diagnosed with a sleeping disorder so it helps me sleep better and night and it also just makes me stronger and helps with my fitness.

"It helps me sleep because it bursts all my energy and it gets rid of all of it and then I feel really tired at the end.

"It's really inclusive, especially in our disability group because there's so many people with so many different types of disabilities and you really do get to know people. You get to know that you're not the only one.

"I know that there's other people that are like me still wanting to do gymnastics.

Alexander Row is one of many experienced coaches and the Centre Director at Waveney and has explained how inclusivity is always at the club's heart.

Throughout his time at Waveney, Row has used his coaching expertise to promote further inclusivity in British Gymnastics, sitting on the Disability Gymnastics Board to further encourage grassroots sport for all levels and abilities.

He said: "I think gymnastics is just so adaptable. It can fit and tailor to anyone with any individual needs. So you can still participate in some type of gymnastics even if you've got severe disabilities or you've got maybe some of those hidden disabilities that we can see as well.

"For us here at Waveney, we pride ourselves on being one of the best in the country for ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity.

“So you can walk through our door and we’ll make sure that you have the same opportunity as anyone.

"I think that's one of the challenges that we come across, that coaches feel like they can't provide or do enough for the participants. But just by making some slight adaptations you can make that person's whole week."

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