Helen is a 35 year old chef from Manchester who represented the Southport Spinal Unit at the 2022 Inter Spinal Unit Games. She was very excited to be coming along to the birthplace of the Paralympic movement and discovering the 16 wheelchair sports on offer.

Helen participating in a seated throw javelin competition

Helen was injured after falling from a window, causing an incomplete injury to her lumber spine. After her injury she spent time in hospital before moving to the Southport Spinal Unit for 3 months of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the opportunity to take part in sporting activity was limited.

“Having accessible swimming facilities and hydro therapy would have really benefited us but unfortunately due to Covid we weren’t able to access the pool at the time. The gym was accessible though and we could use this as much as we wanted. Fortunately, after leaving the unit I went onto the Revitalise Sandpipers Centre where I benefitted from intense physio and the daily use of the hydro pool.”

Following injury, Helen understands the importance of exercise and when the 2022 WheelPower Inter Spinal Unit Games were mentioned to her she was really looking forward to seeing and trying everything on offer.

“Coming to the Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium has been amazing. I was relaxed, excited comfortable and it felt like I was home. I haven’t been around many wheelchair users back in Manchester for the past year and half so coming here I’ve felt so at ease and felt on top of the world."

Helen rowing at the Inter Spinal Unit Games

“I’ve done so much that I didn’t think I’d like doing or be good at. I threw a javelin, a shot put, and I really enjoyed the powerlifting and got up to 47.5kg! I did the shooting which I was very good at. I didn’t think I’d like the wheelchair tennis but it was a little easier than I thought it would be.”

Helen’s talent for sport was clear to the coaches who took her details so she can continue playing after returning home. “So it turns out that I’m a bit of an all-rounder really! GB Disability Shooting took my name and I was really happy to get 3rd place overall. I’d love to try basketball back at home as well.”

"After coming to the Inter Spinal Unit Games I am going to be taking away lots of inspiration. I feel really proud of myself and my abilities. I would absolutely recommend it, just do it, what’s stopping you. Don’t be afraid. You can truly be yourself here - you can be free.”

Helen preparing to serve in a wheelchair tennis game

“Taking part and having fun is what it’s all about, and I’ve also been able to meet many Paralympic athletes and fellow amazing wheelchair users. I’m feeling absolutely blessed to have had this opportunity and it’s just been a phenomenal week. Thank you WheelPower for a feel-good, optimistic, inspiring, positive, fun, and supportive time.”

We wish Helen every success in the future and thank her for sharing her story with WheelPower.