(This blog post has been created by Joy and has been written voluntarily!)
I am honoured to be an ambassador for Access Your Life and would like to thank Felix and Lauren for giving me this opportunity. I am passionate about ensuring people having access to the right equipment so that their disability does not prevent them from aiming high - something AYL can help people around the world to achieve!
A little bit about me - I was born with Spina Bifida and at the age of 6, was adopted from China and brought to the UK. As you can imagine moving to a different country without knowing the language can be difficult, but it wasn't until I couldn't participate in secondary school P.E. that I started to feel left out, forcing me to watch from the side-lines or help out with admin tasks. Because of this, my dad went looking for ways to keep me fit and active, when a friend suggested taking part in a wheelchair basketball session - it was at this point when I instantly fell in love with the sport and have not looked back since.
Initially, the sport provided me with an opportunity to stay active whilst meeting other people living with disabilities. From there I received an invitation to a GB Development Camp at the age of 14, where I came to the realisation that I wanted to represent Team GB at the Paralympic Games. Several camps later and I attended the 2014 World Championships in Toronto where I made my debut at just 15 years old! From there I moved away from home to Worcester and started training full time whilst attending college. It was probably the toughest decision I had ever made, but I knew if I wanted to become a professional athlete I had to make the move. In 2018 the team came second in the World Championships in Hamburg and have since captained the GB U25 Women’s team to a European Gold and a World’s Bronze medal!
Being a wheelchair user for the majority of my life means that I fully understand the difficulties associated with finding a chair that fits both my needs and lifestyle. Early on in my basketball career, I had was fortune enough to find a company that part-funded my day chair, which was light enough for me to transport in my car; whereas my NHS chair was way too heavy and poorly fitted, meaning it was too difficult to get around. Although I know that so many people are unable to secure such funding, so I think the opportunity to buy and sell second-hand mobility equipment through AYL will greatly help to the disabled community!