Paralympian inspires next generation of inclusive coaches at Nike
Nike athlete Richard Whitehead MBE inspired the next generation of inclusive sports coaches at their graduation ceremony held at the company’s headquarters in London.
The world-leading Paralympian, who is a double through-knee amputee, spoke passionately about inclusion in sport to the new graduates of an Inclusive Activity Leader (IAL) programme.
The programme is being run by Disability Sports Coach (DSC) with the support of Nike. Award recipients have all passed a Level 1 or 2 Multi-Skills Development in Sport Course.
Track and road champion Richard, who holds two Paralympian gold medals, said: “When I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me or a group who had aspirations in sport.
“I was told I couldn’t walk, never mind run.”
Programme graduate Alex Blayden, 24, who is autistic, attended the ceremony where he was presented with his certificate by Richard. He said: “Richard has inspired me to keep on doing my work. What he has achieved is amazing. Disabled people need to be able to play sports, not just non-disabled people.”
As a result of the programme, Alex has now achieved paid employment and works as a freelance coach for Disability Sport Coach.
Richard was being interviewed at the event by another graduate of the IAL programme Jacob Larsen, who is also head coach at Disability Sport’s Coach’s Westminster club. Richard told Jacob that there is a need to push forward on disability inclusion in sport. He said: “Too many times you go to a sporting event and people with disabilities are on the wrong side of the railings.”
He added that being a disabled athlete means saying: “This is me. I’ve got a disability but don’t judge me for that, judge me by my performance.”
Peter Ackred, Disability Sports Coach CEO said: “It was a real privilege to see our Inclusive Activity Leader graduates receive their certificates from Richard Whitehead, who was simply inspirational.
“Our graduates can be justly proud of their incredible achievements. They are at the forefront of pushing for disability inclusion in sport.
“We train disabled and non-disabled coaches together and are working with the sector to show the benefits of employing disabled coaches to their organisations and society. Our mission is to ensure that no disabled person is left out of sport and we are grateful for the incredible support of Nike.”