Sports has played an essential role in Gareth Herridge’s life post-injury. Gareth is a C6 quadriplegic, and he is now an advocate of the immense benefits of sports on any individual.
The world of disabled sports is continuously expanding. Sports like boccia, powerchair football, and wheelchair rugby are just the tip of the extensive range of sports and activities for people with disabilities. The Rio Paralympics itself organised 22 unique sports, and be the host of some 4500 athletes from all around the world! Companies and organisations have also lent their support to disabled sports by providing adaptive sporting equipment and aids. There is definitely something for everyone, and it is up to the individual to make the daring leap of entering the world of sports.
Gareth is involved in wheelchair rugby himself. Not only has sports provided him with physical benefits, such as muscle and lung fitness, it has also helped him find a community. Gareth has made many friends through sporting activities, and is able to form deeper emotional connections with them by sharing similar experiences and stories.
“The vast majority of them will have had the same queries or suffered similar embarrassments to you and so you feel at ease to open up and discuss these things, often in horrendous detail, but almost always ending up in fits of laughter as you take turns recounting the horrors you’ve seen and experienced, each trying to one-up the other. And then everything feels okay."
The ability for them to discuss and eventually laugh over their situations allows them to see that they are not alone. And for Gareth, “it is this sense of camaraderie that is the most important thing [he has gotten] out of sport since the injury.”
The physical and emotional strength that Gareth has attained out of sports cannot be understated. Sports has given him both confidence and the ability to live independently. It has enabled him to be more open to trying different things, to have more adventures, and most importantly, to not limit himself from the possibilities he can achieve. And thus, he encourages everyone to take this leap of entering the world of sports, regardless of physical ability. “You never know, it might end up surprising you and you might end up surprising yourself!”
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