dpm_flag.png Celebrating Disability Pride Month this July

Stories from GOGA Volunteers

Published 26th May 2023

Volunteers are vital to support community initiatives like Get Out Get Active (GOGA), but the experience volunteering also benefits the volunteer themselves! Read about four dedicated volunteers from around the country, and what volunteering has meant to them: 

GOGA Volunteer: Sparrow Gotthardt

Where do you volunteer?

GOGA North Wales with Pride Cymru.

What motivated Sparrow to volunteer with GOGA?

Sparrow has struggled to fit into the concept of "normal" for years due to being Autistic and Trans.

He struggles to attend school or groups for young people due being different, not being able to speak at times, wearing clothes he feels comfortable in that aren't the "norm" , sensory overloads making him shutdown, anxiety.  Often called "dog, retard, thick, rude". He feels his opinions are disregarded in school as he does not fit the ‘norms.’ Sparrow refuses to do PE for many reasons.

Sparrow, GOGA Volunteer. He is looking at the camera, wearing a Pride Cymru hoody, a bucket hat with a rainbow coloured brand logo, and rainbow flag shutter shades.

Photo: Sparrow Gotthardt

Sparrow, for example doesn't think someone is rude if they don't talk, he just thinks they don't want to talk. He doesn't judge someone on what they look like or what they wear, he just gets to know the person.

Sparrow enjoys volunteering with Emma [Jones, Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Activator for Pride Cymru] because he gets to meet people who just accept him as he is, his opinions are valued and not disregarded, his confidence has grown, he gets to show off his strengths and he wants to be able to include it on his C.V to help him get a job in the future. He recognises that it maybe a struggle to get a job that he will enjoy and wants to help improve his chances. Emma recently supported Sparrow with an opportunity to attend a Youth Sport Trust residential.Emma has invited Sparrow to lots of fun activities and opportunities for which we are so grateful.

What is Sparrow's favourite thing he has done/experienced with GOGA?

Sparrow enjoys volunteering at one-off events such as marching with Denbigh LGBTQ+ group at their carnival and being on reception at the Network and partnership event. Sparrow has enjoyed activities and opportunities to meet new people. Sparrow enjoyed attending VIVA LGBTQ+ Youth Group.

What benefits has Sparrow personally gained from GOGA?

Sparrow has had fun, made friends and enjoyed trying new activities.

What would Sparrow like to do next with volunteering?

Sparrow is looking forward to going to this year's Pride Cymru event in Cardiff. Sparrow is also interested in attending Pride Youth Games.

What advice would you give to someone else looking to volunteer or get involved with GOGA?

People are friendly and find ways for you to volunteer even if you don't want to do it all the time. It can seem scary but volunteering is a good place to start especially for work place experience and people care about what you are interested in and try to find things you might like to do.

GOGA Volunteer: A grandmother who started volunteering to support her grandchildren

Where do you volunteer?

Pembrokeshire, with Strength Academy Wales (SAW) Active Together Sessions supported by GOGA Elective Home Education (EHE). GOGA EHE is supported by Sport Pembrokeshire and Disability Sport Wales.

A grandmother weight training with her granddaughters at Strength Academy Wales

What motivated you to volunteer with GOGA?

My granddaughter started attending the sessions, I seen how much she enjoyed it, she wanted to share that with the whole family, this lead to getting her cousins involved in coming to the sessions, encouraging both their mums and I now take them all. SAW then encouraged me to join in with the sessions and it was great because everything could be adapted, it was such a great friendly atmosphere.

What is your favourite thing you have done/experienced with GOGA?

My favourite thing was being able to come to the GOGA sessions and feel welcomed, all sessions were encouraged to be active together and it pushed myself to get involved.

We now have 3 generations taking part, me, my daughter, and my grand daughter.

What benefits have you personally gained from GOGA?

From taking part in the sessions it’s helped my everyday life fitness, I can lift things when I’m doing my shopping. I am able to bend more when doing my gardening, go out for walks with my grandchildren and my confidence has improved in so many ways, I'm no longer afraid to do daily tasks that involve lifting & stretching.

What would you like to do next with volunteering?

I’d like to still get other home educated families involved, it could be talking to them over a coffee morning spreading awareness of GOGA and how it promotes being activity together.

What advice would you give to someone else looking to volunteer or get involved with GOGA?

Take every opportunity and trust the GOGA officers, you’re always their best interest!

GOGA Volunteers: Victoria Abdie and Deborah Green

Where do you volunteer?

Newport Aces Basketball Club with GOGA EDC (Ethnically Diverse Communities), supported by Street Games and Disability Sport Wales.

What motivated you to volunteer with GOGA?

Victoria: My children motivated me by playing so much basketball. I started volunteering to help the club, support more children, like they have for my children.

Deborah: The kids – some children don’t get the chance to be part of something as they don’t fit into the box – GOGA within Newport Aces Basketball provides opportunities for everyone whether able bodied or not to stay active & stay in contact with others & to be part of something.

What is your favourite thing you have done/experienced with GOGA?

Victoria: Meeting all the different children that attend and seeing them work hard and have fun.

Deborah: Seeing a little boy who has a diagnoses of Autism go from not wanting to play basketball or get involved in anything – to playing every week laughing & smiling with the other kids being part of a team and really getting involved.

What benefits have you personally gained from GOGA?

Victoria: I have gained many benefits from volunteering for GOGA. Socially and physically, it has given me a closer connection with other parents, coaches, volunteers and the club as a whole. Physically, it has inspired me to pursue my own physical activities. Helping to realise that exercise plays a key part in staying motivated and healthy.

Deborah: Patience and understanding.

What would you like to do next with volunteering?

Victoria: Gain more skills, qualifications and social connections.

Deborah: I am happy to continue & develop with what I am doing at the moment with Newport Aces Basketball.

What advice would you give to someone else looking to volunteer or get involved with GOGA?

Victoria: I would advice anyone who is interested in volunteering to take the step, straight away. It is very rewarding offering a helping hand, no matter how big or small.

Deborah: Get involved it’s so rewarding – it’s as good for your overall health & wellbeing as it is for the participants you are helping.

If you're interested with volunteering with GOGA, get in touch with your local activator:

Asa Waite is the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Activator for Street Games

Email: asa.waite@streetgames.org

If you would like to find out more about the GOGA programme or any of the activities we support please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Emma Jones is the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Activator for Pride Cymru.

Email: emma.goga@pridecymru.com 

Facebook – Get Out Get Active Wales

Katie Bowie-Hallam is the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Activator for Pembrokeshire.

Email: Katie.Bowie-Hallam@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

If you would like to find out more about the GOGA programme or any of the activities we support please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


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