Sam's Passion for Boccia and Horse Riding

Sue, mother of Sam aged 10, who has SMA Type 2, describes her son's passion for boccia and horse riding.

Boccia is a target ball sport belonging to the same family as petanque and bowls. It is a Paralympic sport for athletes with disabilities that have a major impact on motor skills.

In June 2010, I took Sam to a disability sports day at Tweedbank, near Galashiels. He had a try of a few sports but really enjoyed the boccia (even though I had to hold his arm and help him bowl) so much that he went back for a second try!

In July we were at the Calvert Trust in Kielder, Northumberland, when Gary Fraser, the disability sports manager for the East of Scotland gave a talk. We caught up with him afterwards and asked if there were any boccia clubs near to us and he told us Edinburgh was setting a club up and he would keep in touch.

Sam joined the Edinburgh club in January 2011 and was told that he showed promise from the offset and should enter the Scottish nationals at Stirling the following month, just really for the experience. So we did!

Sam plays with a ramp (assisted device category) and had only been playing for 2 weeks when we went to Stirling where he played with a piece of roof guttering for a ramp! This was just a week after his 9th birthday. He did very well, loved the experience and threw himself into practice. We set about fundraising  £1,000 to buy him his own ramp with accessories. He became the youngest ramper playing in competition in Scotland and has been very successful. His ambition now is to be chosen for the Scotland Squad and ultimately to play in the Paralympics.

Sam isn't just a one trick pony though! His other passion is horses and he has been riding and studying horses since he was 3 with the Berwickshire Riding for the Disabled (RDA). He has passed Grades 1 to 4 so far in horse care and Grade 1 in vaulting.

In his spare time Sam attends the Whizzkidz’ Ambassador Scheme and gained his Bronze leadership award at the residential in Edinburgh in the summer. He had a great time. Participants made buildings with spaghetti and marshmallows and made a film with flip cameras as well as getting down to the serious business of learning to be responsible citizens. The 2 day course ended with a fun karaoke night where Sam impressed the leaders with his wide musical knowledge.

Sam has also gained a certificate from Whizzkidz’ Wheelchair Training Skills course.

Needless to say we are VERY proud of Sam and all of his accomplishments.

Our mantra is: Nothing is impossible! Difficult maybe, awkward often, but impossible...NEVER!!

This article first appeared in the Winter 2011/12 edition of our ‘Inspirations’ magazine