Abire, 12, from Tooting in South London has several eye conditions which has left her vision impaired since birth.
Before Abire joined the RSBC’s Sport Without Limits programme, she was very quiet and shy. However after just a few months with RSBC, Abire is like a different person. “She’s so confident now!” Mum Wajiha says. Abire even inspired RSBC’s very own mini Olympic games!
When Abire was born, Wajiha explains that Abire’s eyes were very different to her other children. “She wasn’t making eye contact with me when I picked her up. I noticed that she would turn her head to look at the window or the light at night time, so I took her to an eye specialist to see if there was a problem.
“They were able to make special glasses for her at only three weeks old”
“After the specialist completed the test, he told us that Abire wouldn’t be able to see without glasses. To my delight however, they were able to make special glasses for her at only three weeks old. As soon as we put the glasses on Abire, she was able to make eye contact with me, the feeling was indescribable!”
When Abire was a few months old, the family were referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital, where they found out that she is sensitive to light, and she suffers from an unusual form of cone dystrophy which means that she has significantly reduced distance and near vision.
“She’ll play games separately with a support teacher”
Now that Abire is at school, her vision impairment can make things difficult, Mum Wajiha says. “Children are inquisitive and ask a lot of questions, which when you’re young is quite hard to handle.” This is especially true when Abire plays sports at school, Wajiha says.
“Sometimes the children don’t want to be on her team because she finds it difficult to catch balls due to her sight. She’s often given the job of refereeing the match, or she’ll play games separately with a support teacher rather than being included with the rest of the class. It’s tough for her because we love sports, and as a family we try to include new ways of helping Abire take part in games, even if it’s just a little game of cricket in the hallway at home.”
“It was fantastic to see Abire catch a ball”
Linden Lodge, a specialist sensory school lends support to Abire at her own secondary school. The staff were aware of the family’s love for sports and told them about some RSBC sports sessions.
Wajiha explains “Abire was really nervous about attending, but we came along to support her. She was really shy at first, but Ginesha and Chris, who were running the RSBC session really helped. All the games were specially adapted for blind or partially sighted people, and the staff were really attentive to our needs. It was fantastic to see Abire catch a ball, it was something she’s been afraid of her whole life!”
After such a great first session, Abire and her family kept going back. “At the end of each session, the RSBC professionals ask the attendees what they’d like to do next, and Abire told Ginisha that she would like to try athletics. The next session we attended, Ginisha had arranged an RSBC athletics Olympic games for Abire to take part in. She was thrilled!”
Abire is becoming more independent and eager to try out new things.
“While she was running a race, Ginisha came over to us and said that she thought that Abire could run faster, so we decided to tell her exactly that. In her next race, Abire practically flew round the track, and her team won! Abire’s confidence has grown so much since we started coming to the RSBC that she’s almost a completely different person. She’s becoming more independent, and eager to try out new things. She’s been to archery classes, swimming, and even climbed the O2!”
“My confidence has been boosted a great deal”
Abire says “RSBC has made a huge impact on how I think of sports. Since I have been attending these sessions my confidence has been boosted a great deal. Not only is RSBC a great way to develop new skills but also to meet lovely people and make new friends. I would like to give a special thanks to Ginisha and the rest of the RSBC team for helping me gain confidence and for giving me a chance to experience sports.”
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All our Health and Well-being clubs run across London, are free to attend and open to blind or partially sighted young people aged 8-25 to make friends and have fun. No experience required.