Upping their game

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The sixth annual Recovery Games were the biggest and best yet, says Stuart Green.

Recovery Games
Read the full article in DDN Magazine

Ahead of September’s Recovery Month, people from across Britain gathered to celebrate recovery at the sixth annual Recovery Games in Doncaster last month. The games are the brainchild of Aspire drug and alcohol service, which is run in partnership with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and The Drug and Alcohol Service (ADS).

These games celebrate the achievements, personal journeys and overcoming of challenges faced by people in recovery from a drug or alcohol problem. They provide the opportunity for shared experiences and making new friends and connections with likeminded people who are in recovery themselves. The games symbolise that recovery is possible with the right support and inclusive recovery communities.

colour festival at the recovery games

This year the demand from across the UK to take part exceeded all expectations, with 50 teams from England, Scotland and Wales registering and competing in a day of gladiator-style games and obstacle courses on the ground and in the water. Such was the demand that registrations unfortunately had to be closed early, but plans are afoot to make the 2020 Recovery Games even bigger and better. The rain couldn’t dampen the energy and enthusiasm of the competitors and spectators, with just short of 1,000 people attending on the day.

The Recovery Games represents a movement towards inclusiveness, and this year saw a push to attract more spectators from the general public. Families with young children came along and enjoyed the carnival atmosphere, and teams made their own costumes or wore fancy dress to celebrate comradery. This in turn contributed to the build-up of excitement, creating a sense of equality by giving service users, support groups and workers a shared connection and purpose.

The Recovery Games is a mix of celebration, excitement, inspiration and emotion. The minute’s silence at the middle of the day was an opportunity for everyone to show respect for the ‘fallen warriors’ who’ve lost their battle with addiction. This was followed by the spectacular ‘festival of colours’ which celebrated being alive – you can watch the film via this link 

obstacle course at the recovery games

The overall winner this year was the ‘Greased Lightning’ themed team from New Beginnings, a Doncaster based rehab and detox unit run by Aspire. The games were made possible by donations and the proceeds from the sale of merchandise, especially the much-admired t-shirts which have helped secure an important step towards funding the 2020 games.

‘This year’s games were the biggest and best yet, with the recovery community being stronger and more vibrant than ever,’ said event organiser Neil Firbank of Aspire. ‘The event is about letting people know that recovery is alive and being nurtured in many towns across the region and the UK. Thank you to everyone who took part and supported this amazing event.’

Tim Young, chief executive of ADS, said the games were a ‘great day of celebration. For the first time this year the weather wasn’t kind to us and yet the rain did nothing to dampen the magic of the event. If anything this year has added ‘the year of the rain’ to the legend of the Recovery Games in the same way Glastonbury has its infamous ‘year of the mud’. A day of powerful images and emotions, the games once again brought people together to make new connections and reinforce existing ones. The message it sends is clear and loud – “recovery is possible, and fun!”’

Once again it was a fantastic day, exceeding all expectations, with hundreds of people coming together to celebrate and applaud those in recovery from an addiction. The event has become a recognised milestone in the recovery calendar. It sees people with different addictions and health conditions come together, connect, give and learn new skills, but most importantly have fun without the need for substances.

Stuart Green is service manager at Aspire drug and alcohol service

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