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For many people with a disability, travel and sport can come with challenges, whether that is not being able to move around locations freely or limited availability of specialist equipment.
25 year old Jack Poulton understands many of these challenges all too well. Jack has cerebral palsy of the lower limbs and is a wheelchair user. He also has a passion for sport. Jack has visited Club La Santa five times with The University of Bedfordshire, UK, as part of the Sports Studies BA annual field trip which includes being a Volunteer on the Volcano Triathlon.
A few years ago, one of the academic tasks set by the Hotel Manager was to evaluate the resort for ‘possible change’ specific to one demographic group. Jack’s presentation was on accessibility for disabilities. Jack recommended changes that could really make a difference; a blue ramp by the leisure pool which he described as ‘not fit for purpose’ as it was very narrow, with steps in places he found inaccessible for his wheelchair. There was also no lifting equipment for getting out of the pools.
This feedback was discussed by the Club La Santa management team and Jack was thrilled when he next visited as the ramp had gone. It had been redesigned. The new ramp was flatter and more accessible for wheelchair users, there was also now lifting equipment into the pools.
Jack’s lecturer, Dr Amanda Jones from the University of Bedfordshire, led the unit’s annual field trips to Club La Santa. She told us how incredibly proud she is of everything that Jack has achieved, and recounts how his trips to Club La Santa have given him such a positive, ‘can do’ attitude and aided his independence.
“Jack came to Club La Santa with us the very first year he was at University. Every year he grew in confidence and he has gone on to achieve so much. His ‘I can do anything attitude’ is so inspiring and
We spoke to Jack about his love of Club La Santa, his passion for sport, and his experiences and achievements. Jack said
“I just love sport. My favourite sport is football. I’m an Arsenal fan. I love wheelchair basketball, watching rugby, watching cricket, any sport except for darts and golf really!
I throw myself into all the sports. I take part in boxing classes, I use the Fitness Centre a lot, Pilates. I’ve tried paddle boarding once before and hired a handcycle out. I quite enjoy going around the track on my crutches. The team would provide different wheelchairs for me for sprinting or tennis. Sometimes I’d end up completing four classes a day! I burn myself out, but it’s so worth it.
The Lanzarote tourist board even gave me a wheelchair that allowed me to go hiking up a mountain for the first time in my life. It was a truly amazing experience because I could join in with everyone else and I felt so free. I could enjoy nature, which is such a great thing for your well-being. It was amazing to be surrounded with lovely scenery.
The Green Team are fantastic, they are so accommodating to your needs.
This is why I’ve been to Club La Santa five times now. I just love it, so I kept coming back.
My first visit was with University (of Bedfordshire), where I studied an Undergraduate degree and a Masters degree – My Undergraduate is in Sports Studies and my MA is in Sports Education and Pedagogy.
As part of my visit I was doing a report about the Volcano Triathlon, which I was a volunteer at during the race.
I really like it (volunteering). You get to meet everybody in the resort… It’s a real community feeling on the day.
Since my first visit to Club La Santa I would say the accessibility has got a lot better. For me there are more ramps, and it just feels easier to get around. It’s good as well because there was already a lot of ramps in place. But the fact they took my feedback on board (about the pool) is great and shows how much they care. It makes my experience a lot easier when I’m there.
The wheelchair accessibility in the accommodation is on-point too, it’s fantastic. Last time we were just in a standard room and even then, we could get the wheelchair in and out no problem.
My last visit was the first time I had travelled alone. This is a whole different ball game because you have to do everything yourself. Even if I do need help, I’ve got my friends there. But it gives you a level of independence. I can do pretty much everything I want by myself, which is so empowering.
The leisure pool is really good because you’ve got the ramp going down into the water. Overall the access is really good, I can’t fault it. It gives me a level of freedom and independence.
It (Club La Santa) does give you a bit of a kick start to think about your diet too, think about your overall lifestyle. It improves your body image, self-confidence, self-esteem, it’s all entwined in doing sport.
It would be nice if you could pack Club La Santa in your suitcase and bring it home with you!
If you want to follow Jack’s fitness journey further you can find him at positivelycerebralpalsy, on twitter at poulton25, or on Instagram.
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