A few months ago one of our brilliant Physiotherapy students from University of the West of England Bristol, Gayle Olivier, wrote this lovely welcome testimonial about one of our newest team members - Andy Chapman who joined us in September 2022 as an Occupational Therapist for our National team. 
"We are delighted to introduce Andy, one of our newest team members, as of September 2022. 
Andy’s journey towards promoting all inclusive, physical activity began when he was a child. Born with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, affecting his left side, meant that Andy spent years enduring stretching exercises to increase muscle capability. Like most children, Andy wanted to play sport and participate in physical activity, yet the stretches didn’t feel meaningful for the activities he wanted to play, and the advice he was given was to refrain from being active for fear of injury. Andy moved on into a career in investment banking. Living a sedentary lifestyle, working long hours, for many years, led to back and hip joint pain. Andy once again sought the guidance of both occupational and physiotherapists and was given the advice to think about a career change into a more active role. 
At the same time the Paralympics were being held in London, which re-ignited Andy’s lifelong enthusiasm for physical activity. This led Andy to take up an opportunity through Sport for England’s legacy project, InstructAbility, training people with disabilities to become fitness instructors in gyms. An exciting time for Andy, studying at Twickenham Rugby stadium, where they had lessons overlooking the pitch in the box, sponsored by the Injured Players Foundation. On one occasion whilst in the gym, they met the England lady’s rugby team! 
The programme, run by the spinal cord injury charity, Aspire, allowed Andy to become a gym instructor at the first all-inclusive leisure centre in Europe, accredited by the all-inclusive fitness initiative. It was here that Andy met and worked with a community of people with a range of disabilities. He observed occupational therapists and physiotherapists working together and became interested in helping people participate with their occupations and activities of daily living. 
Andy went on to study Occupational Therapy at York St John University. Studying part-time meant he was able to balance meeting the challenges of completing his degree and managing his disability. During his studies, he accessed a one-week physiotherapy, followed by an eight-week occupational and physiotherapy course at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) in London. The emersion experience broadened Andy’s insight to the many benefits of physical activity. Beyond physical health, he realised how it extended to social and mental health too. It was here that Andy’s holistic view on practice began to evolve, and he recognised that we wanted to work as an OT within a physical activity context. 
It was through searching for social, adaptive, physical activities that he could access himself when Andy discovered Sport for Confidence (SFC). He personally identifies with the notion of how sport can unlock confidence and once unlocked, barriers are broken down. He believes that SFC offers the opportunity to engage in sport and physical activity where it’s not otherwise possible. Andy will be spending time engaging with the wonderful participants of SFC. 
Participant engagement is an area of interest Andy explored whilst at university. He wrote his dissertation based on the participant experience of attending a dementia friendly multisport session, which he considered whilst volunteering at these sessions run by the university at their sport site. Andy is now proud to be part of a team, that includes all participants, that values user experience to effect positive change. 
As you may have guessed, Andy likes to keep active! Whilst at work, if not at a leisure centre, you’ll find him at his standing desk. During his downtime he attends Tai Chi twice a week and goes to the gym for swimming, cardio, and strength training. In London he joined an adaptive rowing club and as he’s not yet able to find a suitable club nearby, during lockdown, he bought himself a water rower. He now aims to row the length of the Thames! 
Andy continues to look for all-inclusive group physical activities in his local area, and his hope is for Sport for Confidence to extend to all leisure centres, nationwide." 
Meet the rest of the team here 
• We are incredibly proud to be an organisation that welcomes people with disabilities to our team. Andy, we celebrate your journey, the challenges and the obstacles and we are so looking forward to the collaboration that lies ahead. 
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