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Louis' Story

To mark our 30th anniversary, we’re releasing 30 stories from wheelchair users across our history.

This ambitious and historic project will result in stories being archived as part of the The British Library Sound Archives ensuring that the life experiences of wheelchair users today are captured forever. With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The British Library for their support.

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Whilst preparing for the Tokyo Paralympics, Louis Saunders talks us through his journey with wheelchair boccia, the sport he says has transformed his life.

Playing boccia has meant that Louis has now found an environment where his competitive spirit can thrive.

The sport has given him more independence and allowed him to travel all over from Russia, America, Hong Kong and Europe!

His travels have shown him how countries differ in terms of their accessible facilities and transport.

At home in England, the limitations to public transport mean that he can’t just jump on a train with his friends like other teenagers, but has to plan all his routes in advance.

In the future, Louis hopes that there will be more disability representation in schools, in media and in government, providing young wheelchair users like himself with representation and role models.

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Competitive Sport - Listen to a clip here

“In primary school I just kind of went to school, went home, played computer games… I wasn’t really aware of what disabled people could do.

“As I got older, I realised people were kind of setting up things so I’d win whereas I just wanted to compete fairly.”

International Sport - Listen to a clip here

“Sport is so important and powerful to, kind of, break down some of those barriers.

“After London [Paralympics] I think there’s some evidence to say that that’s really helped, kind of, challenge negative stereotypes towards disability.

“What’s really amazing… is that these teams and individuals from, kind of, less wealthy nations, they still manage to compete and play at the top level in boccia.”

Mental Health in Sport - Listen to a clip here

“UK Sport are just fantastic at making sure that, kind of, your journey as an athlete isn’t detrimental to your health or wellbeing.”

Louis, wearing a blue boccia t-shirt, smiles in his powered wheelchair while in a gym

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Transport - Listen to a clip here

“The trains are quite frustrating… You go to other countries and some countries have, you know, you can kind of drive straight onto the train. It’s brilliant.

“You don’t quite get that same flexibility as an able-bodied person would have.

“Throughout my life there have just been little things that improved my independence, so for example getting my Whizz-Kidz wheelchair… the next step is university and driving.”

Ambitions - Listen to a clip here

“I just think more disabled people need to be making the decisions.

“It’d be really good to get, you know, role models in or staff in with disabilities to, you know, help the kids…

“To get more disability representation across the board in the media, in government, at all levels of society.”

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For Kidz

For Families

For Supporters

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