Having been involved with the inclusive Active Essex ambassador scheme ‘All Together’ since 2017, Justine has used her passion to help break down some of the misconceptions around disability sport.
Justine Harrington, 28, from Basildon, who was born with a visual impairment, is hoping to encourage more disabled people to get involved with physical activity and sport through the launch of her new song and music video; ‘Don’t Tell Me’.
Justine strongly believes that everyone, whatever their level of ability or learning, should have the same opportunities to access sport and physical activity.
In February 2017, Justine decided to take up trampolining, a sport she had tried as a child after sustaining an injury. It was during this time, when Justine started to build up her confidence and abilities on the trampoline that she wrote her song; ‘Don’t Tell Me’.
Commenting on the motivation behind her song, Justine said:
“I was inspired to write my song when I started trampolining and I hope to spread the message that you should never be anyone but your true self and always believe in your own abilities and dreams, regardless of what anyone else says. Always be who you are.”
Justine was always a creative child but was frustrated when people suggested she couldn’t do things because of her visual impairment.
“I found it very controlling and was frustrated when people said: ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’. They were trying to teach me to be a certain person – that I had to conform to everyone’s view of what blind people should be able to do.” Justine added.
Through the All Together ambassador programme, Justine has continued to build her own confidence, share her experiences, and meet other ambassadors from across the county.
The All Together ambassador programme is managed by Active Essex, the county sports partnership for Greater Essex which last year, announced a four-year strategy to change one million lives to get Essex active. This included a key priority to improve health and wellbeing for those living with a disability or life-long illness. This accounts for over 17% of the Greater Essex population.
Anne Wafula Strike, an All Together ambassador and Active Essex board member said:
“It has been wonderful getting to know Justine and seeing how her passion as an ambassador is inspiring other people. I am very proud of her achievements so far and I hope her song will encourage other people to find out what sport and physical activity is available in their own local community. We would love to hear from other people in Essex who would be interested in becoming an All Together ambassador and share their own experiences to help increase the numbers of people with disabilities taking part in sport and physical activity.” Anne concluded.
Earlier this year, Active Essex signed up several organisations working within the disability sector, who have agreed to promote the various opportunities and services for disability sport through their own networks.