dpm_flag.png Celebrating Disability Pride Month this July

The Disabled Young Leaders in Sport Inspiring Connections Event in partnership with Welsh Rugby Union  was an opportunity for disabled young people in sport to come together in an inclusive environment to build connections, be inspired, and inspire others. Hosted for the second year, the format comprised of an informal networking lunch, a live recording of the Disability Sport Wales podcast, and an opportunity to champion young leaders and the organisations who support them.
Headlining the presentation at the All Nations Centre in Cardiff was James Ledger, Wales and Great Britain’s leading T11 Paralympic sprinter, who recorded three inspirational Disability Sport Wales podcasts in front of a live audience.
First on stage was Will Bishop. Having played youth football for Bridgton and Liverpool FC, his talent for athletics was spotted at an insport Series day in Carnarvon. The Cardiff Met student, who is coached by DSW Performance Pathway Senior Officer Morgan Jones, won bronze in the mixed category long jump at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago last year – and finished fifth in the 100 metres sprint, even though he never intended to race and only took his running spikes just in case! Whilst long jump has become his career sport, Will still enjoys playing football and wheelchair basketball.
He was followed by Bronnie Griffiths, who is Project Officer at Activity Alliance. Her journey is very different as Bronnie comes from a leadership and organisational background – indeed she admits that before she volunteered for insport Series events she wasn’t into sport in the slightest! Since then, she has achieved a degree at the University of South Wales and assisted with its expanding disability sports programme, chaired the National Youth Board and established a youth inclusion section at Torino FC. Her inspirational story illustrated that you don’t have to be an athlete to work in, contribute to and benefit from sport.
The third and final DSW Podcast was with Nathan Stephens, who is DSW’s Head of Performance Development. His life changed when, on his ninth birthday, Nathan tried to jump onto a moving freight train. His strength of character meant that losing both his legs wasn’t the end but the start of his story – as he was introduced to disability sport whilst still recovering in hospital. He still pays para ice hockey, but his talent for throwing was spotted by the late Anthony Hughes MBE at an insport Series event. Nathan went on to break the world record in javelin, compete at the Beijing Paralympics (in shot put, discus and javelin) and gain a degree from Cardiff Met University. He joined DSW in 2015 and has been an inspiration ever since, dedicating his career to help develop sporting talent. 
Other speakers included Darren Carew (WRU National Inclusion Manager), Tomas Martin (DSW Boccia Co-ordinator) and Morgan Jones (DSW Performance Pathway Senior Officer).
Nathan Stephens said: “Para sport has taught me how to overcome adversity, to be able to roll with the punches, to be organised, have good communication skills and to perform under pressure – and all those lessons learned in sport have transferred very well over to home and work life and are helping me in my role as DSW Head of Performance Development. It took me time to realise what I’d developed as my time as an athlete to bring them into the world of business and Disability Sport Wales. My advice is if you have a passion for something and enjoy it, stick at it. Disability Sport Wales is not a job for me, and I’ll continue to do it day in and day out because I love working with the athletes and helping them get to what they want to achieve.”
Darren Carew said: “The Welsh Rugby Union is incredibly proud to support Disability Sport Wales, not only with this Young Leaders in Sport event but in general because we’ve got such a long-term relationship. There is so much value in Disability Sport Wales in how they provide and connect people with wide ranging abilities to so many different sporting opportunities. The Welsh Rugby Union is very much connected to that philosophy and to be able to bring our own community coaches with disabilities down to this youth connections event means a great deal. It’s been a fantastic event.”
The Disability Sport Wales podcasts are broadcasted on YouTube, Spotify, apple podcasts and podbean.
For more information, please contact Paul Evans DSW Communications Officer on: paul@lloydbell.co.uk / 07710 743167

Topics in this article:
GeneralInspiring StoriesWelsh Rugby Union (WRU)


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