Balancing everything as a teenager is tricky

Rainbow, now 18, attended nursery and a mainstream school until the age of 8, when he started to lose vision in his right eye. Following the loss of his vision, he felt that the support he was receiving in mainstream education was not helping him achieve his best potential. At the age of 9 he moved to a specialist vision impairment (VI) school.

He said: “I feel that my school has been instrumental in helping developing my confidence by helping me recognise my skills.”

A passion for sport

Since moving to the specialist VI school, Rainbow felt his confidence grew dramatically in a short space of time. He has been able to fully partake in a range of sports he couldn’t previously and was given the opportunity to go to St Georges Park training ground to play football for the Blind football UK squad. Through this opportunity Rainbow will be completing his FA coaching level 1 qualification in the coming year.

Sport has really helped Rainbow, not only with his confidence, but also his physical and mental wellbeing.

He added: “the team aspect of sport helps bring visually impaired people together, and in my view this is vital.”

Furthermore, the sport provided within specialist education establishments is more tailored in Rainbow’s experience to his needs, and the needs of his peers.

Rainbow’s keen interest in sport extends to teaching boccia – a Paralympic target sport similar to bowls which is played by disabled players and taught through the Sightbox scheme.

Involvement in Sightbox scheme

Rainbow has been instrumental in the development of Sightbox, an engagement and reverse inclusion project.

The concept behind this is that visually impaired children in developing countries receive a box which contains accessible sport equipment, for sports such as 100 metres line running, boccia and football.

Rainbow has been working with sighted people from developing countries to teach them, so they in turn can teach vision impaired people – this is the reverse inclusion part of the project. He has had the opportunity to work with people from Sierra Leon and Indonesia as part of the scheme.

Rainbow visited the Houses of Parliament to raise the issues of vision impairment in young people and the project he is so passionate about.

A balancing act

Being a teenager and balancing everything is tricky. Rainbow is keen to gain his qualifications, but also wants to ensure he has a social life. He is heavily involved in Sightbox, and is an advocate for the project, talking to universities about it, and hopes to continue to do so.

 “All of these recent opportunities, and the great people I have met have really helped me realise what I want to do in the future.”

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