Paralympian gives inspiration to kids at the Rainbow Centre

UP CLOSE From left, Paralympian Sophie Christiansen, Felix Snell, Isabella Saunders, Dee Lawrence and Mariann Balla
UP CLOSE From left, Paralympian Sophie Christiansen, Felix Snell, Isabella Saunders, Dee Lawrence and Mariann Balla
Alex Wardle, from Lee-on-the-Solent, collapsed at home and tragically died in March 2016, aged 23. 

From left: Alex's father, Stephen Wardle, sister Gemma Wardle, Alex Wardle and his mother, Denise Wardle.

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CHILDREN, parents and volunteers at a centre that helps children with cerebral palsy were inspired by a gold medalist Paralympian.

Sophie Christiansen visited the Rainbow Centre in Fareham and met some of the children who attend the centre’s learning sessions.

Sophie, 25, won three equestrian golds at this year’s Paralympics and is a patron of the Rainbow Centre. As she has cerebral palsy, she knows only too well what good work the centre is doing.

She said: ‘I had some physiotherapy at school but nowhere near what this centre does. It’s so important for the children to learn like this for their physical and social development.’

The Rainbow Centre uses a system of learning called conductive education. They encourage children to take an active role in their own development.

Sophie’s visit gave the children a glimpse of what they could achieve in life, despite having cerebral palsy.

Helen Somerset How, co-founder of the Rainbow Centre, said: ‘It’s so important for our children to have positive role models.

‘The success that Sophie had in the Paralympics means that we couldn’t dream of a better role model.’

Sophie had brought her medals so that people could see them and she even let some people hold them.

Val Milner, volunteer at the centre, said: ‘It’s wonderful – really inspirational, not just for the children but also for the parents as they can see what can be achieved by somebody with the same disability.

She added: ‘Also I’ve never seen a gold medal, let alone held one. Now I’ve seen three.’

Sophie picked the winners of the centre’s annual Christmas raffle, with the help of some of the children.

Top prize of a RIB boat worth £1,000 went to Mr and Mrs Olwen from Southampton. The raffle raised £2,000 for the centre.