TO celebrate the Year of Young People, every week in 2018 The National will be giving a platform to young Scots aged eight to 26 the chance to give readers insight into their lives, challenge negative stereotypes and share their hopes for the future. This week, 16-year-old Rhys McCole.

MY name is Rhys McCole and I live in Greenock, part of Inverclyde. I live in the east end of the town. Greenock is an area that has it challenges but I am proud of where I come from. I live with my mum, who works hard to help provide for me. My family have always supported me.

As a newborn baby I was diagnosed with four holes in my heart and as the years rolled by more problems and diagnoses followed which include Mears Irlen sydrome, auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, asthma and autism.

I have frequent asthma exacerbations, chest infections and general problems with my breathing. I use a lot of medications every day.

Growing up I have not been able to go out to play. My health was always affected by the weather or allergies.

To a lot of people’s surprise, I am an amateur boxer. I box and fight mainstream, the first person with so many restrictions to their health to do so in the UK. I am glad I box – it allows me to socialise a little bit.

My life took a dramatic turn a couple of years ago. I had applied to the SportScotland/YoungScot Young People’s Sport Panel, and luckily I was one of 16 people selected. The opportunities and friendship are something I cherish each and every single day. The team have helped me on so many positive ways, mentoring me, being friends with me and teaching me.

My disabilities are unseen so many people do not understand the challenges I face day to day, and my quest to remain a bit healthier.

SportScotland and YoungScot staff realise some people need adjustments and they are amazing with me. They have provided a lot, but their friendship and keeping in contact with me is very enjoyable.

I was selected to be a Young Scot Ambassador for Year of Young People 2018. It’s a huge honour for me and allows me to continue to engage with people. My tenure with the Sportspanel will cease soon after the best two years I have experienced, but I hope to stay busy with YoungScot and the ambassador role.

My hopes for the future are to see total equality within boxing, to see disability provision by the governing body. I would really like to have a full-time job one day to help my mum financially.

I would like to learn to have friends locally and perhaps to socialise with them. It would be nice for people to understand how complex things can be for others, and to be understanding.

I am very happy and although it may seem as though I have had a hard tough time of it, I remain positive, I always smile and try to help others. 2018 is the Year of Young people and I am sure it’s the start of good times in this country.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has made a positive impact in my life. I really do appreciate it and I am fully aware who you all are. Have a great 2018.

Applications for the Young People’s Sport Panel are now open for young people aged between 14 to 23 and will close on February 22 at noon. Visit to apply.