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Paralympic Legacy Project to be delivered in Lewisham

Press Release   •   Aug 08, 2013 10:37 BST

A disabled man from South West London who cannot talk has become a successful fitness instructor and now there is an opportunity for other unemployed, disabled people to follow in his path.

Laurence James from Greenwich, a 27 year old graduate of the InstructAbility programme, has cerebral palsy and uses a powered wheelchair and a speech aid. However, Laurence is proving that this is no barrier to a successful career in the fitness industry.

InstructAbility is a programme created by Aspire, the spinal injury charity and YMCAfit, the leading fitness industry training provider. InstructAbility involves an entry level fitness industry qualification and voluntary work placement where students also undertake outreach activities to engage more disabled people in fitness activity.

Laurence has been carrying out a very successful voluntary work placement at a leisure centre in South East London.

Laurence says,

“I had always been interested in keeping myself fit and when I was looking for employment opportunities I found out about InstructAbility and from then on I have never looked back.”

“I feel so much more confident. I am proud of what I have achieved and I have proven to myself and to others what I am capable of.  I really look forward to going to work at the gym and I enjoy the environment where I can meet new people. The staff at [my placement] are very supportive and I am very much part of the fitness team. I am so much more determined to do things that I wouldn’t have attempted to do before. The experience has changed my life completely.”

Hilary Farmiloe, Project Manager for InstructAbility, says,

“The success of the 2012 Paralympic Games has raised aspirations of disabled people as well as changing other people's attitudes and, at InstructAbility, we believe that the ‘2012 Inspiremark’ initiative has a valuable role to play the in supporting this long term legacy.”

Disabled people in Lewisham and surrounding areas are now being invited to apply for a free place on the InstructAbility course at The Bridge Leisure Centre in Lower Sydenham. The seven week course, funded by Sport England, commences on in September 2013 and is free to anyone who is disabled, unemployed and over 16 years old.

Full details, including a video about the project, are at: Apply for the course online, call 07917 822977 or email

Notes to Editors

Contact Amy Wackett, Communications Manager at Aspire for further information 020 8420 8957,

33 disabled people have qualified as Level 2 fitness instructors through the InstructAbility programme in 2011-2012. Of those who have completed the work placement 44% have moved into paid employment and 22% have gone on to take higher qualifications.

The wider aim of the InstructAbility project is to contribute positively to social change by challenging the negative perceptions of disabled people in society and encourage greater participation of disabled people in sport and leisure activity.

Aspire is a national charity that provides practical help to people who have been paralysed by spinal cord injuries. Every eight hours in the UK someone is paralysed by a spinal cord injury. For more information about our core services including Aspire Housing, Assistive Technology, Independent Living Advisors and our Human Needs Fund, visit

YMCAfit is one the UK’s leading training providers in the field of exercise, fitness and activity for health; driven by the belief that everyone in society is entitled to the health benefits of regular physical activity.  It is part of Central YMCA whose mission is to change health attitudes and behaviour through advocacy, education and direct delivery.

InstructAbility has been awarded the London 2012 Inspiremark: The Inspire programme is run by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The Inspire programme officially recognises and rewards exceptional, innovative projects inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Projects that are awarded the Inspire mark are allowed to claim an official link to the Games.

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