Paralympian inspires youngsters at Collyer’s

British wheelchair rugby Paralympian Andy Barrow (right) with Louis Power and Dom Evans of HDC Leisure Link -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140314-090318001

British wheelchair rugby Paralympian Andy Barrow (right) with Louis Power and Dom Evans of HDC Leisure Link -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140314-090318001

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Wheelchair rugby Paralympian Andy Barrow made a special visit to Collyer’s Sixth Form College on Thursday March 13 as part of the Sportivate Wheelchair Basketball project.

In his role as a Sport England ‘Sporting Champion’ ambassador, Andy was there to share his inspirational sporting journey, which began after he discovered disability sport follow a spinal cord injury at the age of 17. Although now retired from the professional arena, Andy visits schools and projects to deliver motivational speeches.

JPCT 130314 S14120086x Horsham, Collyers school, Sportivate Wheelchair Basketball project with 3x Wheelchair Rugby British Paralympian Andy Barrow -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140314-091045001

JPCT 130314 S14120086x Horsham, Collyers school, Sportivate Wheelchair Basketball project with 3x Wheelchair Rugby British Paralympian Andy Barrow -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140314-091045001

“Disability sport allowed me to make something good out of my accident,” Andy said. “Rather than give up, I decided to start playing Wheelchair Rugby.”

Since then Andy has achieved a string of successes at major sporting events, including being a three times Paralympian, his last at London 2012, and has won gold medals at three European Championships.

“If you really want something and work hard at it, absolutely anything is possible,” Andy told the 15 young people who attended the Sportivate session – the last in a block of six sessions providing an introduction to skills development and gamplay, delivered by coach Louis Power of Horsham District Council.

Sportivate is a full inclusive programme, offering sporting opportunities to both able bodied and disabled participants aged 11 to 25.

11-year-old Jamie, who attended the session, said: “I find the sessions really interesting and it’s fun to play basketball as I hardly get to play it anywhere else.”

To help inspire and motivate these Sportivate participants, Sport England’s Sporting Champions team of current and retired elite athletes - many of whom competed at London 2012 – regularly visit Sportivate sessions to share their experiences and enthusiasm for sport.

Sportivate is the £56 million National Lottery funded Olympic and Paralympic legacy initiative that gives 11 to 25-year-olds who aren’t particularly sporty, six to eight weeks’ free coaching in a new sport and then helps them find low costs ways to continue to play.