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La Mare High students inspired by Paralympian’s positive messages

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PARALYMPIAN and inspirational speaker Aaron Phipps was at La Mare de Carteret High School yesterday promoting positivity and resilience to students.

Paralympian and Team GB wheelchair rugby player Aaron Phipps is visiting nine schools in two days with his messages of resilience and positivity. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 23045132)

‘My message is all about being able to see the positive in everything, if I leave having all the kids knowing they are strong and can make positive choices, I’ve done my job,’ said Mr Phipps.

At age 15 both his legs and most of his fingers had to be amputated due to blood poisoning from meningitis.

Competing in London Marathons, joining the GB Wheelchair Rugby squad and being selected for the 2012 London Paralympic Games are just some of his achievements as a disabled athlete.

In 2016, the Paralympian decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

When the wheelchair could no longer cope with the terrain, Mr Phipps proceeded to climb for four days on his hands and knees to reach the summit.

‘[Losing my legs] was both the best and worse thing to happen to me, it gave me a whole new perspective on life and now I can promote positivity in others,’ he said.

Fifteen-year-old Kiana Chatterton was inspired by Mr Phipps’ speech and said: ‘It’s amazing to hear how when things got more difficult for him, they were the things that drove him to work harder.’

Although Mr Phipps was reluctant to start disabled sport, he now encourages everyone to give it a go.

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‘After a while it’s not disabled sport, it’s just sport, and it’s as competitive and gruelling and rewarding as you want it to be,’ Mr Phipps said.

It was his enthusiasm getting back into sport that inspired 13-year-old Thierry Le Cheminant the most.

‘All he has achieved shows us that we should never give up on anything.’

Eleven-year-old Theo Turton said: ‘The fact Aaron was told he wouldn’t be able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro but did it anyway and proved everyone wrong really inspired me to never give up.’

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Lifelong learning manager Alun Williams said: ‘Aaron has spoken to a range of students from infants to post-16 but his message has always been the same – resilience comes from taking charge of the choices in your life.

‘It was even more powerful because he was their [the students’] age when his legs were amputated but he wants to show them that positive choices can be made in even the most challenging situations.’

n Mr Phipps is visiting nine schools in two days and will speak at a nursing conference about his journey and experiences in hospitals.

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