Jemima Browning, 20, who started Tadcaster Stingrays, a swimming squad for young people with disabilities, has won this year’s Rotary Young Citizen Sporting Hero Award.
Driven by her younger brother Will, who has Down’s Syndrome, it was Jemima’s belief that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy sport.
Jemima saw that as her brother reached his early teenage years he seemed to become excluded and isolated from groups and activities that were readily available for able bodied children so she ‘went into action’!
Jemima said: “My brother has Down’s Syndrome, he’s a huge inspiration to my life. As he grew older, the gap between him and his peers increased, which we knew as a family was going to happen. But what we really didn’t expect to happen as drastically was the huge decrease in opportunities for him to take part in sports and other activities. So, it was really important for me to decide if the world wasn’t going to create opportunities for him, then I was going to be the one to do that. And hence came Tadcaster Stingrays.”
Jemima set up the Stingrays at Tadcaster Swimming Pool when she was 15 and they are coached by her and some are now competing in the Special Olympics and the Great Britain Down’s Syndrome Swimming Group.
It was really important for me to decide if the world wasn’t going to create opportunities for him, then I was going to be the one to do that.”
Jemima said: “Stingrays has made a massive difference to the young people that join us. It has made a huge impact in the lives of these young people, both in the way that their swimming skills have improved but also in the way that their social skills have improved. It’s been absolutely incredible to watch them all grow as individuals, but also as athletes, I’ve been very, very lucky in that. Will has changed completely. “
Both Jemima and Will were selected to represent Great Britain on the Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Activation Committee and have since travelled to various parts of the world representing this group.
Jemima has gone on to achieve her Level 1 and 2 Swimming Teaching Award and her Level 1 Swim Coaching award. She is now studying at the University of Warwick.
Stingrays has made a massive difference to the young people that join us.”
During her time at Tadcaster Grammar School and alongside her brother Will, she set up a Play Unified Group. They are both Play Unified Ambassadors.
Leeds Rotary were so impressed with Jemima that they nominated her for the Rotary Young Citizen Sporting Hero Award 2021.
Jemima was presented with her Award at a Virtual Rotary Young Citizen Awards Ceremony hosted by BBC TV Presenter Ellie Crisell on Saturday. She received a trophy and certificate and £300 to go to her chosen charity or project from Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland.
The President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Tom Griffin said: “An inspiring story of a young person realizing there was a gap – and taking action to do something about it. Thanks to Jemima’s leadership, young people in her area now have access to sporting facilities previously unavailable – and have had hitherto unattainable opportunities to compete.”