As fate would have it, I have a chance in a million eye disease but I have still not won the lottery, which is roughly the same odds. I lost my sight 17 years ago at the age of 30 due to a rare eye disease called RP. I sat at home with two options moan to myself, “why me” and become depressed or act positively and think “these things happen for a reason”. Luckily, I acted on the latter.
Although my world was turned upside down I decided to re-educate myself. So after leaving school many years earlier with just a couple of CSE’s I started a new journey from absolute basic schooling to graduate. I worked my way through the education system finally culminating in a BA Hons degree in coaching and sports development along with a degree in coaching for the disabled.
If anyone had told me 10 years earlier that I would be up on stage collecting my BA Hons degree dressed in a cap and gown I’d have said they were mad and so would anyone who knew me. But with hard work, positive thoughts and a smile I succeeded in the first part of my cunning plan. The next part of the plan was now firmly in my sight.
It was after trying to find more sporting activities for myself to participate in that I became the Actionnaires Liverpool Sports Coordinator. This was run by Action For Blind People and working with them I realised there was a great need for someone to try and help break down the barriers of disability, disability stereotypes and raise awareness. I thought disability and visual awareness through sport would be a great medium to promote this and therefore DAISY UK was born.
DAISY initially stood for Disability Awareness Introducing Sport to Youngsters and developed a three pronged approach to breaking down these barriers.
- First, working with children, teachers, volunteers in schools, colleges and organisations by delivering presentations, demonstrations, participation in inclusive sports and through role modeling.
- Second, supporting children, teachers, volunteers, colleges and mainstream organisations in how to include through visual and disability awareness courses.
- Third creating pan-disability inclusive sports and activity clubs.
Due to the high quality standards of our visual and disability awareness training we have been asked to deliver courses in the work place to help long term unemployed and people on incapacity benefit back to work. These courses have been extremely successful in giving participants the confidence, self-esteem, motivation and other key personnel qualities needed to get themselves back into the work place.
Daisy UK, which has gone through transition from a voluntary organisation to a non-profit making Community Interest Company has achieved much of my vision and it was a great honour to receive two great awards in recognition of what I and the other members of Daisy UK are endeavouring to deliver.
The first award was the Radio City and Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank Community Project of the year award and the second one was the Celebration of success award which was organised by Business Link and aimed to recognise new entrepreneurs who have succeeded in establishing businesses across Greater Merseyside.
I am of course thrilled by winning these awards, especially for my colleagues and the many volunteers who have been so beneficial in Daisy UK’s success. What we are doing is important and worthwhile but I do not wish to give sporting opportunities to young people a mere coat of paint. Remember, disabled school children of today may be the Paralympians of 2012 so long as we encourage them to get involved, increase their confidence, self esteem but most importantly facilitate fun… then and only then will my vision be clear.