“Being active hasn’t really improved my balance – I’d say it has improved my lifestyle.” Joel originally joined Club Westminster to improve his balance, which has led to a desire to give back to his local community... through sport.

Joel or better known as Jay, (28) is our Community Club Westminster volunteer. He is also a proud Londoner, “I always have been, always will be.” Growing up in Queens Park, he considers his local community as incredibly important to him and wants to give back.

Jay acquired Leukodystrophy at the age of 23 in very unexpected circumstances. Leukodystrophy results in poor balance and completing day-to-day activities can be very difficult. Having played in sports teams such as basketball or athletics growing up, he now had to find new ways to be active and hoped being active would help improve his balance.

“I’ve always loved to be active. I used to love playing sports with friends but now I find anyway to be active. During the day I go for long walks, those long walks usually end up at a local park and I often end up using the outside gym equipment. I say “usually”, I do this for 2 hours a day, everyday at Paddington Rec!”

Jay joined Club Westminster as a participant in 2016 but has since grown into a volunteer role, supporting the session alongside our coaches.

“It’s odd, I started doing more sports activities when I acquired my disability but it hasn’t really improved my balance – I’d say it has improved my lifestyle. It’s made me more determined; it’s given me a purpose. I now want to give back and make sure others can enjoy sport as much as me.”

Volunteering at Club Westminster, has given Jay the confidence to go beyond sport. He now volunteers for the Westminster Adult Education service as a classroom assistant in the learning disability department, supports events at his local church and has recently started mentoring (supporting peers with job hunting) and still believes being active has a big part to play in people’s lives.

“People with disabilities, whatever disability they have, shouldn’t let that stop them. Everyone has a chance in life and I think the more you keep active the more likely you are to achieve what you want.”

We commend Jay for his desire to support others and we’re sure residents of Queens Park are incredibly grateful for his efforts in their local community.

One Million Stories X #WeCouldBe

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