By Samantha Renke

If truth be told I’m really not into sports, unless you count clothes shopping and wine tasting as sporting activities?

As far as I can remember, my relationship with exercise and sport has always been unpleasant. Having to attend physical therapy once a week meant I missed a substantial amount of school time, leaving me feeling isolated and highlighting the fact that I was the disabled kid in the school. Sport was never really for fun. In fact, physical therapy was often painful and tiring.

I remember school sports days where I sat mostly on the sidelines spectating not partaking. The few activities I could be part of I found awkward. I was embarrassed as full participation was never an option nor did I find them enjoyable.

My older sister Stephanie was a sports pro, head of hockey and netball; she did judo, kickboxing and gymnastics to name but a few and I loved watching her in competitions, but we didn’t do any of this together and it put a strain on our relationship. I was, at times, envious of her and she resented me for holding her back as she was not allowed a bike simply because I couldn’t ride one.

As I’ve grown older, there have been times when I’d wished sports and exercise were a part of my life. Playing sports, being part of a team, going to the gym and meeting new people; keeping your mind and body fit and having something to look forward to are all essential for people living with a disability.

The Paralympics showed disability in an amazing way, but not everyone like myself is a Paralympian which is why I’m so proud, excited and, above all, honoured to be an ambassador of Parallel London. Parallel has something for everyone, no matter what your ability. It isn’t who can finish the race first or who can kick the ball the furthest or who’s the strongest, it’s about coming together in a beautiful place in the heart of London and having fun with your family and friends. Parallel gives siblings an opportunity to play and have fun together, something I’m sure families rarely get a chance to do. The whole concept of Parallel London excited me from the moment I was introduced to it. It’s going to be bigger and better than last year and there will be something for everyone.

The best bit is that attendance to the festival is absolutely FREE, a word not often associated with London.

Parallel London is taking place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday, 3 September 2017. 

Sign up now at www.parallellondon.com

Follow Samantha Renke on Twitter @samrenke, keep up with on the latest from @ParallelLondon

Sam is a regular columnist for PosAbility magazine, subscribe now!