Some people in life are not born with the privilege of a loving supporting family,Joy and Miriam haizelden at birth found themselves instead on the step of a Chinese orphanage where they were taken in and cared for. The arrival of Jim and Margaret haizelden in china also brought forth the life changing adoption process that in the space of five years worth of legal procedures would eventually see the girls moved from the orphanage to their new family home in the UK. When the girls first arrived they spoke no English and so communication was difficult however Jim and Margaret had friends who spoke mandarin so they managed to get by with the girls gradually learning more and more English as they progressed and developed in their new surroundings and culture.
Both girls suffer from the spinal condition spina bifida which meant that they had to sit out of PE lessons in school and weren’t very physically active until in 2011 a chance run in with an old school friend and their dad having a conversation that led to them going to try wheelchair basketball at a local after school club.
Basketball gave them not only a physical outlet where they could exercise and be active but also a social aspect where they could make new friends and talk to other people in similar situations to them, Miriam is quoted as saying that before basketball she had very low self esteem. And so by playing and meeting new people she was able to become more socially active and boost her confidence substantially whilst achieving some great feats in the actually sporting side of it playing at both regional trials and the Sainsbury’s School Games in 2014, before earning a place at the GB Futures training camp where she said it helped develop her more as both a player and an athlete.
Joy however whilst also enjoying the social aspect of the sport got herself stuck into serious competition and found herself competing at the 2013 under 25 European championships just 2 years after taking up the sport. A continuous string of achievement meant that joy became the youngest member of team GB wheelchair basketball and competed at the Rio paralympics at just 17 years old missing pout on a podium finish after loosing to the Netherlands in the bronze final.
The remarkable story of both of these girls shows how anyone of any background can have the opportunity to achieve their potential despite their previous circumstances, in this situation it was the loving home of Jim and Margaret that helped take these girls from orphaned babies and integrate them into a family where they have grown developed and become astonishing athletes as well as transforming into the strong young women they now are as they stride to continue achieving.