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TECHNO ‘JIM’ selected as volunteer for Games village

Jim Smith from Ilford, London was successful in his application after the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) supported Technogym’s recruitment of volunteer fitness instructors to ensure it was inclusive of disabled people.

Jim has recently qualified as a level 2 fitness instructor. He gained his qualification through the InstructAbility programme designed by Aspire, the spinal injury charity and YMCAfit. Jim was born with a defect to his hip and since the age of 13yrs has had a condition that causes vertebrae to fuse leaving his back in a permanently rounded position.

Talking of his disability Jim said:

“I usually refer to myself as having ‘structural imperfections’. It might make the building slightly unsafe to inhabit but a good place to be none-the-less! Being different is never easy especially if you get bullied as a child, but I have found as I got older, people are more interested in finding out about why I am different. We are all just people with different shells, like ocean crabs".

Jim responds with the same humour and philosophy when asked about the Paralympic games:

“I think the Paralympic Games are fantastic. I have been following them since Sydney and Beijing but it is even more exciting to have them on home soil here in London. Seeing a lot of these athletes should hopefully extol the importance of exercise for the disabled community and help people realize that movement (in all its ranges and forms) is more beneficial than growing roots into your sofa. I am excited and still in shock about being selected to work in the athlete’s gym. It is probably one of the most amazing opportunities you can ever experience. We see a lot of the tabloid stories about disabled people (which are rarely positive) and how they struggle with their disability, but you rarely see the more active side of disability and how people can still maintain a competitive attitude. I am looking forward to meeting the Paralympic athletes and my highlight would be a chance to meet Oscar Pistorius. A lot of my family and friends are excited for me, as working with disabled athletes is probably my dream career choice. There is also a bit of jealousy as, although they would like tickets to see the games, they would also really like to see a lot of the athletes train. I think a TV special of inside the gym would go a long way to exposing the level of professionalism and expertise these athletes hold as well as share some intriguing stories.

I hope as a disabled fitness instructor I can help break down some of the barriers for other disabled people but if we are going to create a lasting legacy of increased sporting participation we need a combined effort. If Aspire and YMCAfit continue to deliver accessible training for instructors we also need sports and fitness organisations, local authorities and the Inclusive Fitness Initiative to work together to engage more disabled people. Being a disabled instructor in the athlete’s gym is a good opportunity to show people that not only do we have disabled people excelling as sports performers but there are also disabled people working as part of the support system.”

Contact Hilary Farmiloe, Aspire Inclusion Manager for further information.

Or learn more about the EFDS Inclusive Fitness programme