The Capital’s first sports club for disabled children has been launched by Edinburgh Leisure.
As the country prepares to host the Commonwealth Games, High Flyers offers the first multi-sport wheelchair-based sessions in the region.
Training in athletics, basketball, badminton and tennis is delivered by some of the country’s leading coaches.
Angela McCulloch, whose 11-year-old son, Ruairi, has spina bifida, said: “Ruairi has been playing wheelchair tennis for about five years but if he wanted to try all of the activities offered by High Flyers previously we would have had to travel outside of Edinburgh, so this is much more convenient.
“They have also been learning wheelchair skills that will help in everyday life, such as getting down stairs and up on to pavement kerbs. It’s really inspired him, especially seeing all the things that the instructors can do.”
Dad Malcolm agrees that the club has served as an inspiration to his son.
He said: “It’s not just about sport, it also gives him ideas and skills to try out in his everyday life. It’s great for his confidence and gives him goals to aim towards.”
However, Ruairi, who lives in Portobello and is in P7 at the Gaelic Parkside Primary, already has a very specific goal in mind.
“I’d really love to compete in wheelchair tennis at the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020. I can already beat my coach and he’s able bodied. He gets a bit annoyed when I win, but I’m sure he’s proud of me really.”
Heather Williams, disability sport co-ordinator at Edinburgh Leisure, said: “Often people view wheelchairs negatively, associating them with loss of independence. But for many the support of a wheelchair in sport is positive, enabling them to access independence and fun times.”
Hosted at Currie Community High School, the opening of the club comes just months after Team GB won 120 medals at the Paralympic Games.
Gary Fraser, regional manager for Scottish Disability Sport, said: “These sessions are unique in the way they will be delivered as coaches from local clubs will provide their expertise as well as providing a clear pathway to their sport.
“We are fortunate to have some of the best wheelchair sports clubs in the country, within the Lothian region. All partners are unanimous in the belief that there are not enough young people with physical impairments accessing sport and hopefully this initiative will encourage increased participation rates.”
The club is run in partnership with Scottish Disability Sport and Active Schools and funded by the Edinburgh City Council.
To find out more, visit www.edinburghleisure.co.uk.