Paralympic champion Stephen Miller is encouraging disabled children to follow in his footsteps after setting up a new sports scheme.
The three-time gold medalist has launched the project with his wife Rachel, who he married in August last year when he beat the odds to walk down the aisle.
The couple, of Cramlington, Northumberland, have now founded a community group called “SMILE Through Sport” to inspire disabled people to get into sport.
Stephen, who is currently training for the 2016 Rio Paralympics, said: “From my point of view, sport has given me a great life. My life would have been very different without sport because sport has improved my entire life. The biggest thing I have got from sport is confidence. My disability has improved so much because of the regular activity I take part in.
“If we can convey that message to other disabled people and their parents then that’s great.”
The not-for-profit organisation is the first thing the couple have set up together and will offer a range of services to corporate, education and the local community.
The scheme, housed within Gateshead College Academy for Sport, will offer sporting activities and inspirational speakers for events.
It will work alongside Gateshead College to create and sustain the Sportability club and other disability sports opportunities.
Rachel, a former disability sport development officer, said she was looking forward to working alongside husband Stephen.
The 29-year-old said: “I’m really looking forward to doing it. When Stephen is away training he’s often away for months at a time. It will be quite nice to see him during the day. Because I have always worked in disabled sport and with the same group of people we have always been around each other, and even if we weren’t doing this together we would still probably be talking about it at home.”
The organisation has already organised a number of projects for 2014, including Gateshead College Sportability club, Northumberland Sport Family forum day and Boccia Northumberland but are looking for volunteers to come forward.
For information see www.stephenjamesmiller.co.uk/smile or call 0191 477 4553.