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Who's in the Paralympic Park? Jenny's story

news | 16:35 UK time, Thursday, 6 September 2012

Jenny Lochner at the Olympic Park

Hundreds of thousands of people have been through the Olympic Park here in Stratford over the last week. If crowd size is an indication in itself, then the Paralympic Games have been a hit.

I've been wandering around itching to speak to spectators and occasionally stopping a few of them to find out who they are and why they were drawn to a disability games festival.

Jenny Lochner is a 33-year-old psychologist who lives in Guildford. She was using a wheelchair when I met her but tells me she tends to use crutches for shorter distances.

She says she came along because she has become really excited about sports for disabled people lately and has joined a local gym to get fit.

She tells me she consciously joined before the Paralympics so no-one would think she was jumping on any bandwagons.

Jenny has spina bifida so has always been disabled. "I haven't done a lot of sport before," she says.

"I went to mainstream school, and sport in mainstream schools for people with disabilities was in its early days, the inclusion was a bit ropey."

I've heard lots of disabled kids in mainstream school spent their PE lessons in the library. I ask Jenny whether this applied to her.

"No. I was included in sports lessons," Jenny tells me. "I sort of joined in with things like rounders.

"I would hit the ball and then somebody would push me and if I fell out I was the one who got into trouble. Mostly because I used to find it really funny."

Jenny was at high school between 1990 and 1995. This was prior to the more advanced education equality laws of the last decade.

I ask her whether school sport was fun.

"They were really really well meaning," she says. "I would be throwing balls in netball and trying to throw javelins in athletics and failing miserably and feeling like a total wally.

"But yeah, they did their best to include me. I don't know what training they would have had to do that, if any. But it put me off sport for a while."

But her interest has been piqued again so I ask if she's seen anything at the Paralympics that she'd like to have a go at.

"I've seen lots of things that I thought looked quite fun and then thought I really need to get a bit fitter first in order to have a cat in hell's chance of doing any of it.

"Things like the wheelchair basketball are phenomenal and the athletics we've seen today, it would be good to have a go at but it's finding the opportunities really.

I've heard there are some taster sessions Leonard Cheshire are doing and I want to go to those."

See also: Who's in the Paralympic Park? Jodie's story

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