A Paralympian, who was told she would never walk again after a horrific accident, has inspired school pupils to strive for greatness and be themselves as part of a national initiative.
Wendy Smith, who represented Great Britain in the women’s wheelchair basketball team in Athens 2004, told youngsters at Rougham Primary and Chilton Primary, in Stowmarket, how she beat the odds after suffering a severe spinal injury in a motorbike accident aged 17. Through years of work at the gym she can now walk with sticks.
Her visit to the schools was part of 21st Century Legacy’s Be the Best You Can Be programme, which aims to empower young people to pursue their dreams in the wake of the London Olympics.
Fifty four schools in Suffolk are taking part and each will welcome an Olympian, Paralympian or high achiever.
Mrs Smith said: “I have seen children transform from states of ‘I can’t do that’ to ‘I can do that’ within the three hours I attend schools for.”
Karen Sewell, headteacher at Rougham, said pupils will now work on an aspirations folder focusing on different goals such as learning to play a musical instrument.
She said: “It’s really about focusing them on doing the best they can each day in the short term and long term and the real goals they can actually achieve.
“It’s also about being themselves and not trying to emulate someone else.”
Mrs Sewell is also head of Woolpit Primary, which was due to welcome BMX world champion Mike Mullen as part of the initiative.
Mr Mullen will also visit Ixworth Primary on Monday.
Laura Carr, deputy head at Chilton, said: “It’s about raising the childrens’ aspirations and getting them to understand they can set themselves a long term goal for what they want to do in terms of a job, hobby or friendship.”