London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: The Young Londoners Award - London Youth Games
AN OVERWHELMING sense of pride filled all those involved in the London Youth Games (LYG) after their Virtual Inclusive Games was nominated for London Sport’s The Young Londoners Award, in association with Sported.
When the Covid-19 lockdown hit, the organisation had to cancel its usual plans to host thousands of kids across 30 boroughs overnight. The pandemic forced LYG to adapt and the Virtual Inclusive Games was born, running for eight weeks from February to April 2021.
Young disabled Londoners set three virtual physical challenges a week for anyone to film themselves taking part in, record their scores and stay active at home - with the project breaking down barriers and being shared widely over social media to help kids stay healthy and connected.
“It was amazing because the London Youth Games for me is about seeing the youth smile; when they are happy, you are happy too,” said Hilmey Shawwal, a 25-year-old T54 wheelchair racer and club captain of the Weir Archer Academy, who is aiming to make the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
“The nomination was something to be proud of because I’ve always been connected to the London Youth Games, competing for my borough Ealing, and it’s inspiring that I’ve managed to have a hand in that with the Virtual Inclusive Games project.
“I was given the athletics week to make sure the kids were involved in different activities. It was moving that I could still manage to inspire people during lockdown; it was just the best thing ever.”
Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots and community physical activity and sport in the city.
And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
The winners of the sixth edition of the London Sport Awards will be announced on December 6 and the London Youth Games will discover their fate in the category that rewards those giving under-25s the best opportunity to form a positive physical activity habit for life.
Chief Executive Andy Dalby-Welsh, 43, said: “It’s fantastic recognition for the team’s work and those young people who stepped up and set up the challenges.
“I remember getting an email from a mum who said her son wouldn’t normally take part in the London Youth Games because of his impairment.
“But the fact that we put this on gave him the opportunity to take part and he was loving it every single week – it was making him feel much better remaining active, albeit at home.
“It takes a huge amount of courage when you’ve got a disability to put yourself out there, to film content and then for it to be shared.”
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