As a double Paralympic champion, I am often referred to as a role model; a fact which makes me unbelievably proud. The opportunity to inspire young people is one of the greatest things about being a sportsperson, and I feel honoured every single time someone asks me for an autograph or a photo – usually a “selfie”!
Being a role model is particularly important for me because it gives me the opportunity to challenge others’ perceptions of disabled people, inspire young people of all abilities to participate in sport and encourage everyone to provide activities that are inclusive for all.
It is for these reasons that I am very proud to announce that I will be supporting the National Inclusive Futures Camp this month at Loughborough University.
Inclusive Futures, which is run by the Youth Sport Trust and funded by Spirit of 2012, is a leadership and volunteering initiative for young people with special emphasis on inclusion.
It features young people aged 14-19, with and without disabilities, volunteering alongside each other to support and deliver physical activities in schools and communities.
What is particularly impressive is that there are eight major UK cities involved with Inclusive Futures in the form of Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Gateshead, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Swansea.
All eight will come together for the National Inclusive Futures Camp on 27-29 March.
A total of 120 young volunteers from these cities will attend the three-day residential camp to take part in a range of high quality leadership and volunteering workshops, such as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. There will also be other athletes such as Claire Harvey, Kate Grey and Stephen Miller offering advice and coaching during the camp so that these young people can enhance their skills and become even better ambassadors for the Inclusive Futures Programme.
I want these young people to feel pride in the volunteering work they’ve completed and to understand that there’s a wealth of opportunities available to them through sport. By the end of the camp, I hope that each young person will have been on a personal journey which will inspire them to make a difference in their local areas.
As a Youth Sport Trust Ambassador, I feel that this camp fits perfectly with the Youth Sport Trust mission to build a brighter future for young people through PE and sport. The motto of the Camp is: “Challenging Perceptions, Increasing Participation and creating Inclusive Provision” – and I will be very proud to help these young people achieve it.