Inspiring and supporting young people seriously injured through sport

CHARLIE HUMPHREYS

My name is Charlie Humphreys; I'm 22 years old and suffered a spinal cord injury whilst skiing on Christmas eve. I was then 21 and had just started my second year at Cardiff University where I was studying Sports Biomedicine and Nutrition. The injury unfortunately rendered me broken from the waist down.

I love sport and the previous 21 years had been full of tennis, competitive motocross racing and intense weight training. My goal was to hopefully enter the fitness industry with the qualifications but also the aesthetics and fitness of an athlete. However the nature of my spinal cord injury and the experience of hospital made me drop 4 stone in weight and added a large chunk of depression.

I did however take note of some hints the hospital experience gave me about how to approach life now! This was simply by talking to other people who through the nature of their injuries had been chair users for a long time. It occurred to me that many had become quite content not to do much with their lives. Many didn't work, have hobbies or partners. However there were others who inspired me and gave me hope, they had jobs, played sport and didn't see their disability as a barrier to normal life, and whilst speaking to these people you just forget that they're even in a chair.

So I decided it was time to give life a go in a chair, I was becoming sick of feeling useless at home and I was bored and stuck with a low income and reliant on benefits. If I'm honest I felt embarrassed especially when I considered how all my mates were just beginning their careers.

So when you're in a chair and thinking about getting back to work, the stereotypical 'office job' appears the only option. I didn't want this as I've only known sport and fitness throughout my life and would find the hum drum of 9-5 soul destroying. So after a search, I managed to find a Personal Trainer's course designed for people with disabilities, the course is organised by Aspire but run by YMCAFIT. Unfortunately I simply could not afford the course fees or the travelling costs from north Wales to London each week.

This is where the Matt Hampson Foundation has helped me out. They paid my tuition fees and travelling costs. The Foundation has literally got me back into employment in a gym. Although I still have a long way to go, simply put, I don't feel embarrassed about my situation anymore, my self-esteem has been restored because I am proud to show that just because I'm in a chair, it doesn't mean that I can't be as productive as before.

I feel Matt's Foundation is brilliant in how it can directly help young injured people like me to live a normal life. I can't thank Matt enough for his help.

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