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Short breaks helping to support teenager's Paralympic dreams

Norfolk County Council, 29 March 2022 00:00

A Norfolk teenager is moving a step closer to his Paralympic dreams, with the support of Norfolk County Council's short breaks service.

Sam Cozens, 15, from Hethersett, has been skiing since the age of five and can hit speeds of up to 45mph on the slopes, despite being visually impaired.

He has just started training with the ParaGB Pathways squad and has recently had his disability classified for the sport, meaning that he is eligible to compete for team GB. In November, he will travel to the Netherlands to receive his classification by the International Paralympic Committee and could then be eligible to compete in the Milano Cortina Games in 2026.

Since the age of 10, he has received funding via Norfolk County Council's short breaks team, which has helped fund ski sessions and ski camps. He has been skiing with Norfolk Ski Club both locally and nationally for a number of years.

Beki Cozens, Sam's mum, said: "The short breaks service has been such a massive help. He really wouldn't be where he is without the funding to support his skiing sessions.

"His dream is to win Paralympic Gold and he is so determined and dedicated. We're fully behind him but it's an expensive sport to compete in and he wouldn't have been able to have these extra opportunities, like ski camps, without the short breaks support."

Short breaks provide children and young people with disabilities the chance to take part in activities, explore new opportunities, form friendships and become more independent.

They take place outside of school hours during daytime, evenings, weekends and school holidays.

Short breaks could, depending on the child's allocated budget, be used for:

  • Group activities like a youth club or Saturday group for children and young people with disabilities
  • Holiday play schemes
  • One-to-one support to access any other activities, such as youth clubs, cinema trips or meeting friends for lunch
  • Sports, or music sessions - such as those enjoyed by Sam.

Sam was born with ocular albinoism which means his vision is limited to up to 8m, he has no depth perception and he is almost completely blind in the dark. In the right conditions he skis alone, but he often skis with the support of a guide.

He is currently studying for his GCSEs at Hethersett Academy, including GCSE PE and skiing is one of the sports he has chosen. He has also recently completed his Level One Irish Associations of Ski Instructors instructor qualification and is teaching others to ski on plastic and synthetic snow.

Mrs Cozens added: "We are so proud of Sam. He is absolutely set on his dream and it's something he's really excelling at.

"It would be amazing to see him at the Paralympics in four years and it's something he really deserves."

Sam added: "I'm really grateful for the funds that we are given from Short Breaks and I will try my hardest to bring home the Gold when I get there. It's going to be a long journey but I will try my hardest."

Sam is also looking for sponsors who might be able to support his Paralympic journey. If any local businesses might be interested in supporting him, they can contact Beki via email at

Cllr John Fisher, Cabinet Member for Children's Services at Norfolk County Council, said: "Short breaks are aimed at giving children with disabilities the opportunities to try new activities, gain independence and have fun and that's exactly what they have achieved for Sam.

"He is a talented young man, who has shown fantastic commitment to his sport. Everyone at the council wishes him the very best of luck in fulfilling his Paralympic dream."

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43

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