Sam’s story: Chasing my dreams and combining my greatest passions

Samuel is smiling and looking at the camera, wearing a black cap and top

Twenty-four-year-old Sam sustained his spinal cord injury five years ago. “I was 19 years old, being a typical teenager. I got my injury by diving head-first into shallow water,” explains Sam. “It changed everything for me.”

Back Up lifted my spirits

“I met Back Up while I was at the spinal centre in Sheffield.”

“I was having one of the worst days ever. I was wearing a halo brace to support my neck, unable to move. I was feeling really down.”

“And along came one of Back Up’s Outreach and Engagement Coordinators. Like me, he had a diving injury and had been in a similar situation.”

“He made me see a future after spinal cord injury.”

“He told me how life is for him now. He explained all the fun things he does, all the normal things he does day to day. He’s married with kids. It was amazing. Listening to him made a huge impact on me and lifted my spirits massively from the hole I was in.”

Moving forwards

“I wanted to move forwards and gain some independence, so I joined Back Up’s ‘Moving Forwards’ course in Leeds.”

“I was excited about booking the course, but once I was accepted, I was nervous about starting something new. But the second I got there, I felt so comfortable, and it felt right.”

“To be back in a group, specifically a group of people who use wheelchairs for the first time, was amazing. I realised we had similar interests and had been through similar experiences. We became a close group really quickly.”

“It was so helpful to see the trainers doing little things like using a piece of equipment or holding a glass in a certain way. Seeing others doing everyday things can change your life. You think ‘I could do this’ or ‘I could try it that way.’”

“The people on the course, the group leaders, the trainers – they were all so encouraging.”

“I even got the chance to play table tennis and pool, something I didn’t think was possible! Everyone got involved, and I thought I’d give it a go too. I wasn’t very good at it, but it was still really fun to do and that’s what it’s all about!”

My spinal cord injury gave me a new-found respect for life

“Since the ‘Moving Forwards’ course, I’ve been Back Up’s sit-skiing course, and that was just something else! To go out and do something you wouldn’t even think was possible with such a great group. I felt like I was in safe hands and had so much fun.”

“And I did the ‘Skills for Work’ course. I didn’t have a job and didn’t know what I wanted to do. But the course helped me to think about things and gave me the courage to start my own business – Wheeleasy Camping! A couple of months before my injury, I’d bought a campervan to convert but put it on hold. But the course gave me the confidence to explore it. I want to do it as a business so other wheelchair users can experience it just as they would have before their injury.”

“My injury gave me a new-found respect for life, and I can appreciate the little things more.”

“The courses have been so inspiring. I’ve come away from all of them feeling excited and boosted. They’ve helped me look forward and its shown me that everything is still possible after spinal cord injury. It’s a journey, but stick with it, and you’ll get there.”

“To anyone thinking about going on a course, do it, you’ll love it and get ready to book the next!”

We’re so pleased that our life-changing courses helped transform Sam’s outlook for the future. Discover our range of courses on our 2022 courses calendar.