I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Youth Sport Trust’s annual Step into Sport Camp recently where 160 young people descended on Loughborough University.
This camp is one of the biggest highlights of my year. It brings together young disabled leaders and non disabled leaders who want to provide more opportunities for young disabled people in sport, and really develops their skills as leaders and role models. For me, this is a hugely positive thing; working together is the key to inspiring more young people.
Being a good role model is definitely not easy and recognising that you have the ability to lead can also be challenging. Communication, compassion, courage and enthusiasm are just some of the qualities you need and these young people had the opportunity to build these skills at the camp to help them become better leaders. The camp also helped them to learn about themselves; what they are good at, where they can improve and how others perceive them – it’s a huge learning curve, which can be of huge value.
What also strikes me is the journey that some of these young people have been on. Over the years, I’ve seen many leave the camp with a completely different outlook on their lives. Particularly young disabled people as they meet others that may have similar disabilities and challenges, which helps them to realise they are not on their own. One story that will always stick in my mind is from a lad I met at the camp about five years ago, who I then saw the year later at an awards ceremony. I remember him approaching me at the awards night with lots of energy and telling me how the camp had given him the confidence to believe in himself; it was a great moment.
Camps like these have the power to change attitudes and motivate young people, so they can make a change. It’s truly inspiring.