People attending National Paralympic Day featuring the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival will cheer on Paralympics GB stars and watch performers from last year’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony. The free event is aimed at Londoners and visitors, disabled and non-disabled, and will showcase the very best of disability sports and arts.
Key highlights include international boccia, table tennis, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball matches at the Copper Box Arena. There will be the chance to meet 2012 heroes including David Weir and Sophie Christiansen, and to take part in ‘have a go’ sports sessions.
With a running track, BMX and equestrian challenges available, as well as sitting volley ball and disability tennis courts, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to try out sports and activities for themselves. Representatives from community groups and projects including Motivate East, activeNewham and Bikeworks will be on hand to provide advice about opportunities to take up sports or get involved in the local area.
Visitors will be able to enjoy performances by some of the UK’s best disabled artists and performers and stroll round the recently opened and accessible parklands.
The Mayor’s Liberty Festival, the annual showcase of deaf and disabled artists, which has been at the forefront of disability arts over the last decade, is being staged in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time. Produced by some of the creative team behind last year’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony, including co-artistic director Bradley Hemmings, the line-up includes: ‘The Limbless Knight’, an inspiring aerial and sway pole performance from award winning theatre company Graeae, a special appearance from Andrea Begley, who recently triumphed on the BBC TV series ‘The Voice’, and ‘Cube of Curiosity’, a collaboration between choreographer Marc Brew and visual artist Rachel Gadsden. There will be street theatre, outdoor dance, mass choreography, visual arts, live music, film and food, as well as the amazing ‘Miracoco Luminarium’, a monumental interactive light sculpture.
National Paralympic Day featuring the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival is free to attend and everyone is welcome to just turn up on the day for the array of sporting and cultural activities taking place at the Park between 12pm and 6pm. Tickets for the Copper Box Arena where the elite sport is taking place have now sold out, although a limited number will be available on the door.
The London Legacy Development Corporation, the body responsible for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and the British Paralympic Association hope to make this an annual event and an even bigger celebration in the future that will build on the 2012 Games and continue to transform the way we think about disability. The Park will fully open in spring next year and Legacy Corporation and BPA will explore how some of the other iconic venues might be able to play a role in this annual celebration and help showcase more sports to a wider audience.
Speaking ahead of attending Saturday’s event Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: “This exciting celebration for National Paralympic Day will help keep the momentum going around disability sport and I am delighted that our Liberty Festival is involved this year, bringing it to an even bigger audience. The longer term goal is to change attitudes and whether you are disabled or not it’s going to be a terrific day out, with something for everybody to enjoy – not least the chance to experience our wonderful new park again.”Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “With 2012 heroes like David Weir and Sophie Christiansen and a great line up of artistic performers this is set to be a fantastic event and everyone is welcome. We want to continue to showcase the best of disability sport and art to different audiences. That’s why we are working with partners to see how we can use the other iconic 2012 venues that are on the Park as part of an even bigger celebration next year. The money from the Lottery will help us do this and ensure the event goes from strength to strength.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, said: “This time last year, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was the setting for an inspirational event that underlined the world class nature of Paralympic sport and really challenged perceptions of disability. One year on, with National Paralympic Day, we want to recapture some of that spirit and our ambition is to continue the journey that started in 2012 right through to Rio 2016.”