Paralysed ex-rugby player Matt Hampson to headline De Montfort University Autism Awareness events

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

02 - Autism awareness image
Matt Hampson will tell De Montfort students with disabilities to ‘Get Busy Living’

Former professional rugby player Matt Hampson will be bringing his message of “Get Busy Living” to De Montfort University with a motivational speech as part of Autism Awareness Week.

Matt, who was paralysed from the neck down in 2005 following an accidental injury during training, will be giving a talk in the atrium of the Students’ Union on Tuesday(APR2).

His talk at midday will be part of the Get Busy Living Fair which runs from 11am until 3pm on the day.

The former England youth international now frequently gives motivational speeches about his experiences, through The Matt Hampson Foundation, which was set up in 2011.

Dani Findley, Lead Autism Specialist Mentor at DMU, said: “Matt is a very inspiring person, the way he speaks about disability is inspiring for anyone, not just those with disabilities.

“It feels great to have Matt and his team involved with DMU.”

The DMU Autism Team cheekily borrowed Matt’s signature phrase Get Busy Living for the fair, which itself hails from the film The Shawshank Redemption, as they feel it is “empowering but not patronising.”

Dani said: “To me it means whatever life throws at you, pick yourself up and live the life you deserve.”

There will also be students with autism speaking about their experiences at the fair, which it is hoped will give insight into the day-to-day life of an autistic student.

With more than 300 autistic students on campus, Dani said that staff and students should be aware of how to make their lives that little bit easier.

“There is a big misconception about what autism is, it is good for people to learn further.”

Mabel in her silly socks

The week’s events start on Monday and culminate with Silly Sock Day on Friday, April 5. Students and staff are encouraged to don their daftest pair and take a photo with the hashtag #sillysockdaydmu.

Dani has already signed one pair of soles up to the silly sock scheme – her dog Mabel will be the face (or paw) of the university’s Twitter campaign. It should certainly help to make it a sock-cess.

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