Evelina London inspires schoolboy with cerebral palsy to take up boxing

Posted on Friday 20th September 2019
Young boy posing wearing boxing gloves

Zion with his boxing gloves at the community sports event

A schoolboy has discovered his love of boxing after attending a sports event hosted by Evelina London’s community team.

Zion Sy, 10, from Southwark in south London, was inspired to take up boxing after attending the annual Evelina London Sports Camp, run by the community physiotherapy team every summer.

Running since 2015, the week-long event aims to help patients aged five to 17, who have a disability, to get involved in sports.

Activities, which include swimming, cycling, boxing and sailing, are all led by qualified disability sports coaches in venues across Lambeth and Southwark.

Zion has attended the camp every year since 2015. Having enjoyed taking part in the boxing event at the camp, he is now a member of Dwaynamics boxing club in Brixton, south London.

Zoline Makosso, Zion’s mother, 44, said: “When Zion was two years old he was still crawling and wasn’t standing or walking. I was very concerned so I took him to see the doctor and after a series of tests he was diagnosed with cerebellar atrophy with ataxia. I had a normal pregnancy with Zion but he was born with a serious heart murmur so his doctors think that it might be connected to that."

Cerebellar atrophy is a condition that causes ataxia affecting co-ordination, balance and speech.

Zoline who also has three other sons, said: “The heart murmur was thankfully picked up by one of the Evelina London health visitors when he was two weeks old after she noticed that he had difficulty feeding. I was shocked when I found out that he would need heart surgery but thankfully the operation was a success and it has made a huge difference to his life. Before the surgery he had very little energy and because he was constantly tired he would sleep all the time. Now, he is a very active, happy boy.

“Zion has also received fantastic ongoing support from the Evelina London community physiotherapy team. They have really helped him to improve his balance and strength in his legs, which were both weak due to his condition. When he was five he had leg splints for two months, which has greatly improved his mobility.

“The sports camp has been really great for Zion. He has always been interested in sport but before he attended we struggled to find suitable activities that he could do. He is able to try lots of different activities at the sport camp and it was there that he first tried boxing, which he really loves.

“He now attends the Dwaynamics boxing class for juniors every week. It has helped him to improve his balance, strength and overall fitness. He has also made lots of new friends at the club which as has helped increased his confidence. Zion always looks forward to going. For him, it’s the highlight of his week. His coach calls him a star pupil.”

Zion said: “I like going to sports camp. This year I really enjoyed the sailing, football and cycling. Boxing is my favourite activity out of all of the events.  It’s really fun. I like being in the ring and learning new techniques.”

Judith Hart, specialist paediatric community physiotherapist at Evelina London, said: “We are really glad to hear that Zion enjoyed taking part in our sports camp and has taken up boxing. The aim of our sports camp is to introduce sports to our patients with disabilities. It can be difficult for children with disabilities to find suitable sports that they can take part in so our week long activities are a great way for them to try different sports in a friendly and welcoming environment with a qualified coach.

“It’s really important that all children are encouraged to take part in sports. Exercise and sports is especially beneficial to children with disabilities as it helps them improve their strength, mobility and increase their confidence.

“Since we launched our first sports camp the number of children who attend has increased substantially. This year more than 30 children and their siblings attended our events, which is more than ever before.”

The Evelina London Sports Camp is funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. The 2019 event was held from Monday 29 July to Friday 2 August. 

Celebrating 150 years of caring for children

Evelina London is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The hospital was founded in 1869 as Evelina Hospital for Sick Children by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, whose wife, Evelina, died along with their baby in childbirth.