History of the DSAuk
In 1993 Arthur Dean a person with restricted growth took his daughter Nichola who also has restricted growth to Chicago to take part in the 1st World Dwarf Games hosted by the DAAA (Dwarf Athletic Association of America). Nichola being a very good swimmer came back with medals to her credit. Arthur and his daughter went to Chicago with four other Dwarf Athletes and members of their families and between them they returned with 26 medals in total.
On their return to this country Arthur discussed with the families the possibility of setting up an athletic association for dwarfs in this country. What they saw and felt whilst in the states was something they had not come across before. They saw for the first time that people of restricted growth were competing in sport on an equal level. In doing so their self-esteem was lifted and the people taking part gained a great sense of achievement. This idea was very well received and in October 1993 at the RGA convention the Dwarf Athletic Association UK was formed. It was registered as a Charity in the name of the Dwarf Athletics Association the following year.
Fatima Whitbread kindly agreed to be the Patron for the Association at that time. The Association now has two new Patrons' being the Paralympic swimmers Ellie Simmonds O.B.E and Matt Whorwood, who both started their swimming careers with the DAAUK.
In 1995 the Association invited people from overseas to take part in the UK's first International event as a prequel to hosting the 2nd World Dwarf Games in 1997. Ten Countries from around the world attended this event.
From these humble beginnings the Association has grown from strength to strength holding a national games each year. At those games athletes from 2 to 70 years old take part and each year the number of people taking part has grown and grown...
In 2001, a team of 102 people, 58 of which were dwarf athletes, travelled to Toronto, Canada to take part in the 3rd World Dwarf Games again hosted by the DAAA. At these Games the athletes were able to defend or even better their records set at previous games. The team competed with other athletes from 10 different countries around the world. The competition was hard and very well fought.
Now every four years The World Dwarf Games is hosted by different countries, we have been represented by a strong team from Great Britain at each World Games. France hosted the 4th World Games in 2005, followed by Belfast who hosted the 5th World Games 2009 and now we are preparing to take our biggest team ever, to compete in the 6th World Games in August 2013 held in Lansing Michigan.
At each of these events the times, distances and records have been logged and recorded so the world can see that dwarf athletes can compete and win. The DSA had four of its members compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London. The 2012 Paralympics saw the largest number of dwarf athletes ever competing at a paralympic games, again showing the world that we are both serious and capable athletes.
Every year the National Open Games grows in numbers and every year records are broken and personal bests attained. The National Games are now IPC sanctioned, meaning athletes are competing for world ranking positions and qualifying for European and World events. There are many up and coming athletes within the DSAuk and every year they improve and increase in numbers.
The Association is recognized nationally by prominent disability sporting groups all over England, and we are the recognised National Disability Sporting Organisation for people with dwarf conditions. In 2011 the Association changed its name from the Dwarf Athletic Association to the Dwarf Sports Association to encompass all sports including lifestyle and leisure activities. We work with health professionals and schools to ensure the correct information is passed on to families, regarding a child with dwarfism.
The DSAuk now has nine regions covering the whole of the UK, offering different events each month for members in their area. It is important that all young people with dwarfism can feel that they can meet up regularly with other friends who have the same condition, rather than wait for the national events which are less frequent.
The DSAuk National Games is a three day event with athletics, swimming, football, powerlifting, basketball, hockey, table tennis, cycling, new age curling and Rifle shooting.
Due to the increase in numbers of participants, some of the more popular events have been given their own National Event Status at different times of the yearly calendar. These events being Badminton, Boccia and Sailing/Canoeing
The Association and its members have achieved a lot over the last 20 years and are continuing to do so. We have moved on from the office being in a volunteer's home to having our own office with professional development officers and admin staff. This has only been made possible by the continued efforts of a few dedicated volunteers and their fundraising. Through securing a grant from Children in Need for the last 6 years, we have been able to pay for a Development Officer and office, so that the needs of the members and the continuation of the associations future are met. Further successful grant applications allowed us to employ an Inclusive Sports Officer and a part time admin worker. But all these successful applications only last for three year periods, so, for the DSAuk to remain as strong an association as it is today means that the work in finding the finances is never ending.
The DSAuk promotes grass roots participation starting young athletes from the age of two. We use sport as a tool to break down the barriers of difference within society and to encourage confidence and empower our members. It is so important that the our members feel valued and that they can do anything in life. We empower people to go on to enjoy all kinds of sport, in which they can compete equally and should they wish to go further we guide them on to the correct pathway to world class performance within the National Governing Bodies of Sport as with our most successful paralympians, Ellie Simmonds and Matt Whorwood have done.
But it's not about being the best, it's about feeling good with who you are and knowing that you can achieve anything you want to do in life as well as in sport.