Disabled teen says 'sport saved my life' after diagnosis 

Sport saves the life of Grangemouth teenager

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A disabled Grangemouth teenager says sport saved her life after being diagnosed with a condition that painfully dislocates her joints, leaving her in a wheelchair.

Abby Cook, 19, was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome at birth but around the age of 12, she was no longer able to participate in mainstream sport.

She felt isoltated from her previously active life and longed to find a way to stay active.

“When I was a kid, I was a really active child, so I was involved with competitive swimming, I was doing cross-country. And all of that was taken away from me, which felt like overnight.

“It was completely ripped away. I was pretty much housebound for about six months, I couldn’t go to school for two years.

“So I had to try and find a different sport, a different adaptation, so I started wheelchair racing. It really gave me a sense of purpose in life, and it probably saved my life.”

Abby is helping mental health charity SAMH launch their new initiative urging community sports clubs and organisations to help people increase their confidence and self-esteem, and to reduce isolation.

SAMH chief executive Billy Watson said: “We know the demands on mental health services is rising and sport and physical activity is often a quick and easy way to get that initial levels of mental health and wellbeing up.”

After two years of lockdown it’s hoped more people will take up exercise as a way to improve their physical and mental health.

The Scottish Government says it’s working on breaking down barriers like cost and access to sport.

Maree Todd MSP, minister for wport said: “We absolutely recognise the impact that the cost of living crisis is having.

“People who are already finding it difficult to participate in sport, we’re looking at all sorts of initiatives to make sure we include people who are living in socio-economic depravation, we also want to reach disabled people.

“We also want to make sure there’s no geographical inequalities and boy oh boy do we want to get women active. Women have suffered hugely during the pandemic and we want to make sure that they are able to participate in sport and physical activity as part of their recovery.”