Sam James' Story
Sam James is 38 and lives in Swindon. She works for Swindon Borough Council and she teaches at their Ability, Special Olympics and Alive and Kicking sessions, along with some private work in schools with SEN children, disability groups and day centres.
She is the Senior Lead Coach organising all the sessions and the other instructors. She is mainly involved with the trampolining, athletics and multi sports club called Swindon Champions.
Sam also finds time to run her own fitness classes in gyms and the local community around Swindon.
Sam is disabled herself and knows from personal experience the lack of mainstream provision for disabled people and the lack of awareness as society has perceived disabled people to be completely different to those who do not have any disabilities.
Sam loves being a role model and encouraging other disabled people to be able to achieve their goals. She has many clients who have gone on to achieve things they thought they couldn’t once they saw Sam doing it.
The main challenges she finds are that no disability is the same, and how each individual deals or copes with good and bad days is completely different. The biggest challenge she found when she started was the mixed ability group, where some are very able and understand everything and others who are the complete opposite. Working with them daily / weekly helped overcome this as Sam was able to observe them and see what they were good at and work on these points, so everyone feels successful.
Working in Health and Fitness has completely changed Sam’s life, not only has her own disability improved but it has helped her out in other ways, by making new friends and improving her own mental health and outlook on life. Sam is also a lot happier personally.
Physical activity has helped her mental health as well as physical health. Having to cope with a disability and the stigma society puts on disabled people can be a lot for disabled people to cope with, along with the daily battles they face in basic everyday tasks. She used to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks quite often and her role as an instructor has massively reduced these now and made her a lot happier in herself, how she looks at herself. Her new-found confidence and self-esteem also has a positive effect on the clients too.
Sam has learnt how to deal with a variety of people who need things explained in a completely different ways, both staff and clients. Every situation needs to be handled differently. Sam has started coaching and mentoring new coaches and making them feel more confident about their own coaching abilities.
The positive effect coaching has on Sam has been significant, from making new friends, to becoming more sociable and confident. Sam loves going to work and thoroughly enjoys her job.
Sam has helped people in her community by making both children and adults feel valued and that they can achieve something. She is a real inspiration and has encouraged other disabled people to gain qualifications and become coaches themselves.,
Coaching in sport had made Sam realise the benefits to her own disability and that by exercising she can keep cerebral palsy where it is and make sure it does not get any worse.
She would recommend to anyone to become a coach. “Go along to a session or a variety of sessions with different coaches to see how it can be done, you will be automatically inspired by watching passionate coaches who love what they do.”
Sam was 33 years old before she retrained to work in the fitness industry, but it is the best thing she has ever done. “Do not ever let any fear stop you from doing something you really want to do.”
A lot of the sessions Sam coaches are funded in part or full by the National Lottery through Sport England and she would encourage anyone to “keep playing as you do not realise how much good you are doing to many disadvantaged people across the country, many in your own community. Providing access to those vulnerable children and adults who may be left out from mainstream sporting events, clubs and activities.”
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If you want to find out more about how to get into coaching or how to progress further please contact Alan Low, Sports Consultant Mobile: 07917030946 / Office: 01225 781500 / firstname.lastname@example.org