"Learning to use a wheelchair and discovering wheelchair basketball completely transformed my life! Most of my success over the years has stemed from the day I first sat in a wheelchair and bounced a basketball."
If I hadn't started playing wheelchair basketball when I was twelve, I'm not sure what I would be doing today. I doubt my life would be anywhere near as successful.
So I've got a lot to thank two physiotherapist Kay Owen and Owen Mghee for. They introduced me to disability sport after seeing me flying through the streets of plaistow east London, in a shopping trolley pushed by my friends. At the time I walked on Calipers and using a wheelchair never crossed my mind. I hated the idea of having to use one and worried that my friends would laugh at me if they saw me in a chair.
All this changed thanks to Owen and Kay, they'd set up a charity called the Association of wheelchair children. Which at the time I thought was bit of a militant name for a charity. The aim of the charity was to teach kids with disabilities wheelchair skills, giving them greater independence. Owen and Kay had a no boundaries attitude to life, they were free willed and taught us all to be confident, creative, free spirited and to never give up on our dreams. All of us who were nutured in the AWC and played basketball for the charities team the Newham Rollers, have gone on to lead successful lives. I'm sure Kay who passed away a few years ago would be very proud of the Legacy she and Owen have left.
Unfortunately the charity went through tough times financially and almost closed down completely a few years ago. Just like its founders the charity has a fighters mentality, and is still going the name has changed to Go Kids Go! Thankfully less millitant sounding. Owen has taken a lesser role, and the charity is being driven forwards by the equally charasmatic Roy Wild. They offer empowering wheelchair workshops, where Roy assisted by Occupational therapist Emily Ellington, teach wheelchair users essential mobilty skills. Go Kids Go! is a small charity with a big heart, making a huge impact on the kids they meet all over the UK. I'm proud to have began my life in a wheelchair with them, and look forward to working with the charity for many years to come.
Here's clip of Emily at work at recent workshop in south London.