Special Olympics: Sheffield is 'Outdoor City for all', says council
With Special Olympics athletes preparing for the UK National Games in Sheffield this summer, the city council has highlighted the outdoor options disabled people can enjoy.
About 2,600 athletes will travel to the city in August to compete in 20 sports across 12 venues.
The council, working with Disability Sheffield and Accessible Derbyshire, has pulled together a list of ‘must visit’ destinations for people of all abilities, including Damflask Reservoir, Endcliffe Park, Millhouses Park and Manor Fields Park.
The authority hopes to promote the city's outdoor activities to Games visitors, as well as to Sheffield people.
Andrew Crooks, an engagement and development worker at Disability Sheffield and wheelchair user, said: “Sheffield’s a great place. The countryside’s so nearby and Millhouses Park is definitely one of my favourite spots.
“People might think that having a wheelchair is a barrier to getting out and about but it can give you a new lease of life when you get the right chair. And with a bit of creativity, most of the barriers can be removed.
“Obviously there are issues like gates and graded steps, and getting from the road to the car park can be a problem. But some of Sheffield’s parks and countryside are really accessible.”
Specialist groups to help people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors include a walking group for visually impaired people, cycle hire of specially adapted bikes, disabled fishing groups and horse riding for disabled people.
The council's cabinet member for culture, leisure and parks Mary Lea said: “Sheffield is hosting the 2017 Special Olympics for people with learning disabilities and we want people to know that we’re an inclusive city and have something for everyone.
“When we say we’re The Outdoor City we mean it. There are lots of opportunities for disabled people in and around Sheffield, including beautiful, wheelchair accessible routes.
“We want to help raise the profile of these so more people can enjoy everything that our amazing outdoors has to offer.”
The Games will begin on August 7, with an opening ceremony at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadium the following day, and will run until August 11.
Chris Hull from Special Olympics GB said: “Sheffield’s a great sporting city and 2,600 athletes, with around 5,000 families and friends, are thrilled and excited about coming to Sheffield.
“In addition to watching the athletes, many of those family members, friends and supporters are already starting to look at this fabulous outdoor city and things to do while they are here.
" I am sure they will be fascinated by the plentiful parks, woods and countryside in such close proximity to this wonderful green city.”
Visit theoutdoorcity.co.uk/outdoor-city-for-all/ for the list of must-visit destinations and information about specialist groups.
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