Impact Stories How boccia changed my daughter's life Imagine being the only disabled sports enthusiast in an able-bodied school. That’s what it was like (and can still be like) for many of the severely disabled young people whom Boccia England help today. Without Boccia England’s existence and education these potential athletes of the future are side-lined in PE lessons and playtimes or given a whistle (that they can’t blow) or offered physiotherapy instead. This sounds like something from the dark ages but disabled young people who want to excel in sport experience this all the time and if it wasn’t for the great work that Boccia England do there would be very little enjoyment out of life for many young people, including my daughter. Back in the early 2000s she was desperate to be good at sport and after coming across Boccia England at a disability exhibition she was hooked. Fast forward to 2019 - she is now playing for England, representing her nation against countries like Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Russia, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Playing Boccia has been life changing for her, or lifesaving, in all honesty. She is too severely disabled to hold down full-time employment and Boccia has become her career, her passion. It keeps her motivated and through playing she inspires other young people. Boccia has kept her mind and her body fit and it has ensured that she has skills for life such as goal setting, teamwork and commitment. The international medals won decorate her living room and as a family we are incredibly proud of her. Boccia shapes her life and gives it meaning, giving her accomplishments that she can share with her able-bodied peers, making her feel like her part in society is valued. This wouldn’t be possible without the yearly calendar of competitions, coaching sessions and ‘have-a-go’ events that Boccia England run to inspire and engage school children; support and educate parents and carers; and tutor and mentor coaches and volunteers. Their passion, dedication and professionalism has provided not just athletes for the Paralympics but pathways to success for lots of severely disabled young athletes who just physically can’t do any other sport. Many of the athletes can start at a very young age and play well into their 30s and 40s – to great success. Boccia is a huge part of many British families’ lives. Without it I don’t know where my daughter would be today.