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Olympic-inspired event returns to Wythenshawe – and is just what the doctor ordered

Wyth GamesA community sporting event inspired by the Olympics is back this year in Wythenshawe – and is aiming to beat its record of getting 10,000 residents to take part in its sport and cultural programme.

Last year’s Wythenshawe Games was a 9-day community replica of London 2012. The event was so popular – even attracting an 83-year-old ‘virtual’ boxing granny – that more than 10,000 Wythenshawe residents got their trainers on and took part.

A year on and the benefits of the Games are still being felt – with 92 per cent of participants who worked for a personal best still continuing with their sport. And a third (36%) of those people have been doing their chosen sport or hobby three times a week since the Games.

Even Wythenshawe Hall – which had previously been closed – received an Olympic boost in the arm as the Games triggered the formation of a friends group, who helped to see the hall reopen once a month to the public.

In addition, all volunteers, who worked at the event received a personal reference to add to their CVs or to help with job interviews.

And now, this year’s second free event, running from 27 July – 3 August is not only part of the Olympic legacy, but is also a way of maintaining health initiatives linked to the sports sessions.

Councillor Rosa Battle, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, said: “Last year’s turnout was fabulous – it was a fun-filled fiesta of sport, which also helped with getting people fit. Last year’s health focus was on heart health, and we had the health bus in Wythenshawe Park for the whole event  for drop-in blood pressure and cholesterol checks.”

David Regan, Director of Public Health Manchester, continued: “In fact, one of the catalysts for the creation of the Wythenshawe Games was the experience of a local resident, whose life was saved by visiting the men’s health bus which picked up a potentially fatal heart condition. This experience inspired the Games organisers to think of wider event which could help the whole community.”

This year, from the traditional running, football and tennis sessions, to the more unusual like, dodgeball, korfball and martial arts, there is something for everyone, either in Wythenshawe Park or other locations within the town. Special events include an over 50s day, an under 5s day and a pan disability ‘sport for all’ day. The final day of the event, dubbed ‘Wythenshawe Together’ will be a community fun day including dance, cheerleading and go karts.

The event has been organised via a public sector collaboration including Manchester City Council, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, The Manchester United Foundation, Wythenshawe Hospital, The Manchester College and Wythenshawe Forum Trust.

Nigel Wilson, Chief executive from Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, said: “This whole project shows the power of the public sector working together to pool its expertise. We are leading a call for all Wythenshawe residents to come and take part again – no matter what their age or fitness levels. The message again is about fun and fitness. And any sport that a resident takes up as part of the Games will be available to them locally once the event is over, so that they can continue with their hobby.”

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