Jennifer Smyth: Paralysed Eglinton gymnast vows ‘to help others’
27 December 2016
Jennifer Smyth was a promising young gymnast from Norther Ireland but a fall during training in September 2013 changed her life forever.
At the age of 17, Ms Smyth was left with a broken neck and became quadriplegic as a consequence.
The Eglinton teenager has since made significant progress with her injury and hopes one day to walk again.
She attended a rehabilitation centre in America over the summer.
Jennifer was a member of Shooting Starz gym for eight years
Using bionic leg devices and a pacer, Jennifer was able to walk a few lengths of the gym.
“Effectively she took her first steps in America,” her mother Pamela told BBC Radio Foyle.
“The last few years have seen a great focus on faith and determination and I have incredible admiration for her strength of character and her refusal to allow this injury to beat her.
“We’re very, very proud of her. I couldn’t be more proud,” she said.
Jennifer started studying 3D design at the University of Birmingham in September and she hopes it will give her the tools to help people with similar injuries in the future.
“I want to get back to normality again, do most things that other people can do,” she said.
“With my course I want to go on and design prosthetics and exoskeletons to help other people in my situation with the physical aspect of things, continue rehab and get back up on my feet, so hopefully that will happen.”