Schoolgirl’s success at athletics day for blind children

Lily Walsh, from Heckmondwike, who took part in this year's Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day.
Lily Walsh, from Heckmondwike, who took part in this year's Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day.
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A young girl from Heckmondwike has proved that visual impairment is no barrier to success after she took part in the country’s biggest athletics event for blind children.

Lily Walsh, 12, who has Peter’s Anomaly of the eye and is partially sighted, was one of 100 visually impaired youngsters who took part in this year’s Boots Opticians Actionnaires Athletics Day at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

The Castle Hall Academy pupil, who competed in sprinting, long jump and the javelin, said: “It’s been really good and great to catch up with people who were here last year. Taking part in the running was fun too.”

The track and field event brought children together from 12 Actionnaires clubs from the midlands and north of England, and could lead to careers in Paralympic athletics.

The clubs, run by Action for Blind People, give children with a visual impairment the chance to take part in a range of fun activities including 10-pin bowling, pizza making and skiing.

Lesley Inganni, Operations Manager at Action for Blind People, said: “The day is a fantastic way of bringing children together through a range of sports which might not be available to them elsewhere.

“The event teaches the children that their sight loss is no barrier to achieving their goals while at the same time improving their social skills by encouraging them to mix and make new friends.”

LeBen Fletcher, managing director of Boots Opticians, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this fantastic event.

“Supporting young people is really important to us, so it is a real privilege to be a part of providing these inspirational children with the chance to enjoy the excitement of sport which so many of us take for granted.”

The Actionnaires clubs are open to blind and partially sighted children aged four-16, creating opportunities to develop their fitness and artistic skills and encouraging self-confidence and social interaction.

Action for Blind People also provides information about sight loss for young people, activity breaks, as well as help with technology and support groups for parents.

Visit www.actionforblindpeople.org.uk/children for more information about Actionnaires clubs.