Community sports camp inspires girl to join wheelchair basketball team

Posted on Tuesday 14th August 2018
Catalina Diaz Gomez and Skye McWalter at a wheelchair basketball event

Catalina Diaz Gomez and Skye McWalter at a community sports event

A girl has discovered her love for wheelchair basketball after attending an Evelina London community sports event.

Skye McWalter, aged 10 from Streatham Hill in south London, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after she was born prematurely at 27 weeks. As a patient of Evelina London, she has attended the annual Evelina London Sports Camp, run by the community physiotherapist team every summer for the last four years. Having loved playing wheelchair basketball at the camp, she is now a member of Lambeth’s official wheelchair basketball club.

Skye said: “I love going to the Evelina London Sports Camp. I enjoy trying all of the different sports, but wheelchair basketball is my favourite. It’s an exciting sport and I really enjoy playing for Lambeth’s wheelchair basketball club. I’ve been practising with them every Sunday since spring.

“It’s great being part of a team and meeting new people. I’ve made lots of new friends through the Sports Camp and wheelchair basketball. It’s a really fun way to keep fit and active.”

The Sports Camp is an annual week-long event. The physiotherapist team started running the camp in 2014 to help patients aged five to 17, who have a disability, and their families, to get involved in sports. Activities, which include swimming, cycling, boxing and wheelchair basketball, are all led by a qualified disability sports coach in venues across Lambeth and Southwark.

Julia Porter, Skye’s mum, said: “The Evelina London Sports Camp has been really great for Skye. She didn’t have much of an interest in sport before she attended the camp, so if she hadn’t gone she wouldn’t have discovered her love of wheelchair basketball.

“One of the coaches noticed how enthusiastic she was about playing wheelchair basketball, and encouraged her to join Lambeth’s club. Since Skye joined the club her passion and interest in the sport has really grown. It has been a real joy watching her play.

“The fantastic care Skye received has made it possible for her to play wheelchair basketball. Skye has been a patient since she was seven years old, and the physiotherapy sessions she’s been attending in the community have really helped to improve her strength and mobility.

“Everyone involved in Skye’s care has been brilliant. I’m really thankful for all the support she has received. Skye has really flourished under Evelina London’s care.”

Judith Hanna, specialist paediatric physiotherapist for the Evelina London community team, said: “The aim of the camp is to encourage children with disabilities to participate in sports, so it’s a really fantastic outcome when the event directly leads to our patients finding a new hobby or after-school activity that involves physical activity.

“Sport is a great way for children with physical disabilities to improve their strength and fitness, and build their self-confidence, but it can be a struggle to find an activity that’s right for them. Our Sports Camp is a fun way for children to try a number of different sporting activities in a supportive and welcoming environment.

“Since our first Sports Camp the number of children who attend has grown substantially, with more than 30 young patients attending this year’s event. The feedback is always really positive. We have families who come every year.”

The Evelina London Sports Camp is funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.