The moment of the Paralympics that I will always remember most vividly was when I got the chance to see it live. I was at the Excel Centre watching the Wheelchair Fencing. The atmosphere was amazing and the crowd really got behind the athletes and supported their countries. It showed that not just able-bodied people can take part in sports - that was really special.
I was born with a visual impairment called Septo-optic Dysplasia and Nystagmus and growing up I wasn't always a very confident person. But getting into sports really changed that and now I can't imagine my life without it. I initially started playing cricket at eight-years-old through the Sussex VI County Cricket Club, where I first played for the junior team and then the senior team.
But it was at Dorton House School, run by the Royal London Society for Blind People, that I got the chance to try sports that I probably would never have been able to try otherwise such as swimming, archery and trampolining. More importantly for me, it was through RLSB that I got into skiing. It was a sport that I never thought I could be any good at because the slopes have different gradients and some can be very steep. I was very apprehensive about my first skiing trip. No one really thinks that a blind person can ski down a mountain!
Whenever I went with the group from Dorton we would all have to wear high-visibility, florescent vests which said 'cieco' at the back, which means blind in Italian. When we got on the chair lifts everyone around us was really friendly and always ready to help - it helped to make us all feel comfortable. And after a couple of years of going on the skiing trips I realised that it is something that disabled people could be good at. When I am skiing I feel free, it helps me to relax and it is an adrenalin rush. And finding out that I was good at it was a real boost to my confidence.
A PE teacher from Dorton helped me to organise a work placement in Italy at a ski resort earlier this year. Going away for a week on my own gave me confidence in my ability to approach new challenges and overcome my fears. I've since been told that if I wanted to I could train to compete in the skiing at the 2018 Winter Paralympics. It is something I want to work towards and it is one of my goals. I'd love to work as a ski instructor and later a sports development officer or coach.
As a visually impaired young person I've been really lucky that I've had people around me to support and inspire me to pursue sports. There are many opportunities for other VI young people to get involved and try new activities, even if they just want to take it up as a hobby. In the South East, RLSB runs a sports programme for young people called Sports without Limits, as well as an organisation called Cricket for Change (which despite the name actually offers lots of different sports).
It seems that over the past three years as the London Olympics and Paralympics have been getting closer, sports organisations have really been taking disability sports into account. Throughout Sussex, where I am from, sports clubs have started welcoming disabled people more and the staff seem to be better trained in working with people with disabilities.
It's important that the government has recently called on sports organisations to boost participation in sports among disabled people. I don't think that a lot of families realise that there are many sports that their disabled children can do. By the government trying to raise awareness about disability sports, it will encourage a lot more people to take part.
This has been the most successful Paralympic Games of all time. I know it will inspire the next generation of people with disabilities getting into sports and help them realise that they too can achieve great things.