Interabled couple from Worthing strive to help others through social media
The owner of Worthing Football Club and his girlfriend have set up an Instagram page to show some of the challenges couples like them come across – and what they do to overcome them.
George Dowell, who lives in High Salvington, was left unable to walk again after a car crash in April, 2010. He was 17 years old.
The promising teen footballer, who played for Worthing FC, used the compensation he received from the crash to buy the football club, which at the time was facing possible extinction.
His involvement saw the club have a brand-new, 3G pitch installed, The Rebels’ Tavern given a complete makeover to become The 7HQ Sports Bar and Café, and continuing general improvements at Woodside Road.
Now 28, the successful business owner is also using his time to raise awareness of accessibility and disability with his girlfriend, Jessikah Lopez, also 28, and the couple hope to help others.
George said: “As we know, this can happen to anyone and we should all try our best to understand and make things as equal as is possible for all. Hopefully it’ll help others and I’m sure we will learn a lot from others along the way!”
George and Jessikah met through Facebook in November, 2019, after George appeared on Channel 4’s The Undateables. Their relationship blossomed quickly and the pair bubbled up when the pandemic hit.
“It’s been fun – we get on really well,” said George.
“We had both been thinking about doing this for a long time. We wanted to give an insight into our relationship and the challenges we face.
“Our goal is to help as many people as possible and answer as many questions as possible.”
Jessikah, who is originally from Rochester, recently handed in her notice to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to focus on the social media project with George full-time.
She said: “You have these challenges every single day, especially me who is new to dating someone in a wheelchair. It has been a big eye-opener and it is interesting.
“We get lots of questions all the time, so we thought, why don’t we try and do our bit.”
Jessikah, who has a strong arts background, said when she met George, they really got on and had great conversations.
“That’s why I fell in love with him – the chair meant nothing, I looked past it. It is like a love I have never felt before and I love learning about it. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
The pair said they have already had a great response to their Instagram page – @thewheellife_.
“The support has been incredible,” said George.
“I didn’t expect this many people to follow us and it’s not about that – even if it’s just 20 people, that’s still 20 people who are interested and that we are helping.”
Jessikah added: “The response has really solidified it for us and we are really looking forward to sharing our journey. And the more we share, the more we break down the stigma and show that people with a disability can date as well.”
The couple also plan to start up a YouTube channel, where they will upload videos of ‘all the fun things they get up to as an interabled couple’.
They have already shared videos of them heading to restaurants in our town – showing their followers where it is accessible for wheelchair users.
They also plan to document trips away.