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Tully Kearney: Paralympic gold medallist championing opportunities for children with disabilities

UK Sport | UK Sport

3 min read Partner content

Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the freedom of running”: Paralympic gold medallist championing opportunities for children with disabilities.

Tully Kearney, a GB para-swimmer and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold medallist, is using her platform to increase participation opportunities for children with disabilities, allowing them to “experience the freedom of running”.

When shoulder surgery left Tully unable to swim for six months, she turned to frame running as part of her training after being inspired by her friend to give it a go. Born with cerebral palsy and later developing generalised dystonia, a progressive neurological movement disorder, it was the first sport that Tully had found that allowed her to use her legs. That’s when Tully discovered how powerful it could be for younger children with similar disabilities that felt excluded or unable to participate in sport.

Tully commented: “The key thing for frame running is just getting the word out there. It’s a relatively unknown sport, yet there’s so many children that could benefit from it.”

Tully has met a number of inspiring young people along her journey, including 9-year-old Leo and 15-year-old Caitlyn, who have been fortunate enough to access frame running clubs, and she has seen first-hand how it positively impacts them and their families.

Not only is Tully using her platform to drive awareness of the sport, but in the immediate future she is also trying to set up her own club in Loughborough.

“Through meeting Leo, I realised how many other kids out there who are in similar situations can’t get access to the sport and are being told they can’t have walkers because they need to be able to learn to sit first, yet put them on a frame, and they can run!

“There are so many kids out there that I want to help, and whilst there are sports that don’t suit some disabilities, frame running can. But with limited clubs across the country and the expense involved when having to purchase their own frame, it can reduce accessibility to the sport, and I’m passionate about ensuring that barriers are removed.

“Over the next 10 years I want to branch out and get as many kids on frames as possible in the UK, so that everyone has access to, and everyone can experience the freedom of running.” 

Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, said: “Sport is such a powerful tool, and it truly can change people’s lives - it’s important that we break down as many barriers as possible for young people with disabilities, who ordinarily may think that sport isn’t an option for them. With the Paris Paralympic and Olympic Games just around the corner, sharing the stories of athletes such as Tully can hopefully enable us to drive positive change.

“Everyone at UK Sport is so incredibly proud to see the work being done by athletes from our Powered by Purpose project. Tully inspires those around her, and seeing the impact she already has is fantastic.”

This is the second video in a series that has been launched by UK Sport highlighting powerful social impact stories across high-performance sports, showcasing how sport can be the driving factor for meaningful and positive change in society.

Tully was one of 20 athletes from a range of backgrounds who took part in the Powered by Purpose programme, launched by UK Sport in partnership with The True Athlete Project in 2022. The programme is designed to help funded athletes with the confidence, knowledge and skills to use their platform for social change.

 

Read the most recent article written by UK Sport - Value of Events Report 2023: £373 million in direct economic impact to the UK

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Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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