In August, we celebrated our first ever Virtual Summer Festival at Disability Sports Coach. The Summer Festival is held each year to recognise the hard work and achievements of our Community Club members, volunteers and coaches – but also to bring in the summer with some fun accessible sports!

As with everything this year, COVID-19 put a spanner in the works of our original plans, as we were unable to host an in-person event like we have in previous years. However, if there’s anything that we’ve all learned over the past year, it’s how to adapt!

So, following from the success of our #DSCAtHomeprogramme, we decided to hold our Summer Festival online!

After several months of preparation, we held our Virtual Summer Festival, we held our Virtual Summer Festival from the 25th to the 28th of August, and it was a huge success! Over the course of the four days, we had 202 people registered, and 690 session attendances across 23 virtual sessions. We played 11 different sports, as well as sharing some other exciting experiences.

The festival kicked off with our opening ceremony on Tuesday, featuring Paralympic swimmer and Disability Sports Coach patron Susie Rodgers as guest speaker. We learnt about the events ahead and enjoyed a spot of yoga to ease into a week of activity.

Tuesday was a great start to the week, featuring netball from Ellis at England Netball, a boccia session with Coach Debbie and a dance session with Coach Sophie. We were also shared an overview of what we’ve been up to as a charity throughout 2020 (which you can watch back here), and later taken through some key moments of the Paralympics with Susie Rodgers and fellow Paralympian and DSC patron, Kate Grey.

On Wednesday, we enjoyed some more accessible yoga with Paola from Adaptive Yoga, before moving into a high-energy Zumba session with Krystal from K-Stepz Fitspace, and football with the Fulham Foundation and Girls United.

At lunch time, we also hosted a special session on staying active with a chronic illness, featuring presenter Moeed Majeed and Michelle from We Are Undefeatable, which you can watch on YouTube here, where we got some brilliant tips on sustainable exercise

The day concluded with our Intersectional Inclusion in Sport panel, which was chaired by Alex Gibbons from London Sport and featured speakers from Sporting Equals, Women in Sport, Girls United, Goslings Badminton Club and StreetGames UK. The session brought up some fascinating insights from organisations working with a range of marginalised groups on how to increase participation and representation across intersections – you can watch the recording here.

We started Thursday on a high with a brilliant fun fitness session from Coach Sebastian, followed by boxing with Coach Sheila.

At lunch time we welcomed Coach G and Carly Wilkinson from Project HB to discuss how all fitness instructors can approach making their sessions more inclusive, and the importance of doing so. Greer and Carly shared some very valuable advice, so if you work in sport do check our the recording here.

In the afternoon, we handed over to the team at the National Paralympic Heritage Trust for a fun exploration of the history of the Paralympic Games, from their UK HQ itself! We wound down from a day of activity with yoga from Michelle at the Elephant and Castle Community Hub, before holding a coach training session with our very own Coach Louis, sharing the ‘STEPS’ model for accessible sports.

Friday was the final day of the festival, so we started it in style with tennis from Mark at the LTA, and then a super fun quiz hosted by Kate Grey.

Over lunchtime, we hosted our final guest speaker, paraclimber and motivational speaker Anoushé Husain. Anoushé spoke about her journey into paraclimbing, and offered some encouragement for members to try new activities that may be outside of their comfort zones.

After lunch, we did some aerobics with Coach Kemy, and then it was time for the grand finale. In our closing ceremony, we welcomed author and founder of QL Mentoring, Siena Castellon, as our guest speaker. She shared some very inspirational words for our members, and then we added to the feel-good factor with music from Frog Prince!

We held our annual awards ceremony, giving out awards for Club Man and Woman of the Year, best #MyMove entry and much more. There were celebrations all round!

Almost a month after the festival, we’re still sharing some wonderful memories with our members, guests and coaches. It was a fantastic week of sports, inclusive activity, learning and fun, and we can’t wait until next year – whether it’s in-person or not!

If you haven’t done so already, please take 5 minutes to complete our feedback survey and tell us what you thought of the Virtual Summer Festival. We’ve already had some great feedback – for example, 86.67% of respondents learned about new sports and activities, and 87.5% of respondents gave the festival an overall rating of good or excellent.

However, we’d love to hear from more of you! So please do fill in the survey, and if you have any other comments or questions, feel free to call us on 020 7928 4267.

To help us put on more engaging and uniting accessible sports events in the future, please consider donating to our small charity.

Our work makes a huge difference to disabled people in London and further afield (we actually had festival attendees all the way from San Francisco and Morocco!) – and we’d love to keep reaching more people every year.