When I set up CP Teens UK just over a year ago, I never expected the media frenzy that has come with it! From being in every local newspaper last year, being plastered all over Sheffield Children's Hospital, appearing in articles all over the internet, to, being chosen to be the main feature in an issue of the UK's biggest disability sport magazine, being on BBC Radio Sheffield last month, and then having a visit from the BBC today! ... It's crazy! I don't even like being in the 'spotlight', and I don't know why people find CP Teens UK so 'amazing'! Like I always say, I only used social media for CP Teens UK, and consequently built a website, and from here it has grown and grown - it's not grown because of me, it's grown because of all of you. Okay, I came up with the idea and I wanted to stand up for other people with Cerebral Palsy (no pun intended!), but I never expected the media to take such an interest, and a continuing one!
So, today, BBC Look North (Yorkshire) came to film me! Now, building up the courage to go on BBC Radio Sheffield a couple of weeks ago was one of the biggest challenges ever. I really wanted to do it for CP Teens UK and reach out to more people, whether this be people with Cerebral Palsy themselves, or spreading awareness. As you all know, I did it and I literally came out of the studio like "AS IF I JUST DID THAT??!!". There was so much swearing in the car on the way there as Laura will tell you! The mass income of messages following the interview most definitely boosted my confidence, which was just as well as I think I would have died when put in front of a TV camera today! I wouldn't have been able to do it even a month ago!
The filming was split into 3 parts, which were, CP Teens UK, what I do at Athletics (usually moan how cold it is!), and the fact that I'm at University, but the main focus was on CP Teens UK. The fact that I'm at University always captures people's attention, I don't particularly get why?! Everyone always says "oh, we can't believe Ellie's at University!" ... why?! Okay, granted that it may be a little bit of a shock that I am on a Sports course (you would have thought the 2012 Paralympics would have ironed out this shock, but nevermind!), but why do people automatically think just because I can't coordinate my arms and legs, I'm somewhat stupid?! In my Coach's interview, he said how I'm one of those people who if someone tells me I 'can't', I will make damn sure that I 'can'! You definitely have to have this attitude if you have a disability like Cerebral Palsy - from day 1, people will tell you that 'you can't', it's a bit like a record stuck on repeat ... repetitive and boring. My Mum always says if she and my Dad followed blindly the advice and the 'can't' attitude, I would most probably now be confined to a wheelchair, unable to talk and unable to even think about University!
Coach Adam being inteviewed!
Adam and I started the day having a trucker's breakfast at the EIS, he reasurred me it was 'the breakfast of an athlete'! Personally, I've found an Egg McMuffin has always been followed by a medal on a podium - it's become my ritual now, Egg McMuffin + Competition = Ellie on the podium, haha! My Dad now has a running joke that he knows the nearest McDonalds to every stadium, track & field in the UK!
Before the camera man arrived, we went into the store cuboard to fectch my Throwing Frame (what I sit on to throw the Club), and Adam said "Lets take a pole volt out and pretend you're the world's first CP pole volter!". Probably doesn't sound that funny, but we were laughing so much! And then, Adam said, "if you pole volted, I could just imagine you running, putting the pole volt down to jump and collapsing on to the crash mat at the side like a dead fly!"!
We filmed the Club Throwing first, and it felt like a competition but 10 times worst! Adam handed me the first club, and said, 'No pressure, the whole of the North of England are only going to watch this!' ... cheers Adam! Although there is obviously pressure at competitions, every single person has Cerebral Palsy, I've never 'performed' in front of an able-bodied audience if you get what I mean? So, my throwing was, well ... rubbish! Laura (who I met through CP Teens UK) came along again, as she did for the radio, and I could so see her fearing for the camera man's life as I nearly killed Laura with a low flying club the other night! My other coach, Andy, who unfortunately couldn't make the filming, always jokes he's going to go and stand in the city centre when I start throwing as he considers this to be a 'safe distance' ... cheeky bugger!
Filming Club Throwing!
From this, the filming went onto how I am studying a Sports Degree at University. I basically got asked 'why?!'. I was sat there like 'oh my god, I'm going to have to speak on camera!'. This is where I wished I had several Malibu and Cokes for breakfast and not a Full English! So, I basically explained that I got into sport by pure chance - I didn't do a single PE Lesson at school and I totally hid away from sport. I explained how I saw on Twitter that a ParalympicGB 'Sports Fest' was coming to Sheffield, and to be honest, my main original reason that I went was because I really wanted to meet Hannah Cockroft! But, the whole day just completely opened my life up. I just had no idea that people like me could do sport, let alone make a life out of it! I am just so incredibly grateful that I discovered sport as I literally do not know where I would have gone if it hadn't been for that chance introduction. It sounds cheesy, I know, but, when I walked into the EIS for the first time for the Sports Fest, it just felt right. I've never had that feeling before. The EIS is now my second home and there's no place I love being more ... cheesy, but true! I felt really strongly about why young disabled people weren't aware of disability sport and the opportunities and this is why I decided I wanted to do a degree in Sports Development & Coaching. I want to make sure that the 'can' attitude is promoted to young people with disabilities rather than the 'can't' attitude when it comes to sport. I want to bring disability sport more into the public eye, for example, how many people even know what the 'Club Throw' even is, or 'RaceRunning'?!
Filming a University session!
It was really funny as at the EIS, we kept swapping rooms and my timetable started at 1pm, so the camera man sent me through and he said he would catch me up. By the time he caught up, we had finished listening/looking at stuff on the whiteboard and he went "can we just do all of that again so I can film it?!" and everyone was like "urgh!". They didn't film our practical session, which was probably just as well as I think Emma may have wanted to kill me as she had to dress up in a 'fat suit' as we were pretending we were coaching people over a certain age - it would have been hilarious to watch back on Look North!
I got given a pair of glasses which gave the affect of being partially sighted/blind. As you can probably imagine, I was hopeless and I can't coordinate myself at the best of times without adding a bit of blindness to the mix! But, it did make me think, lots of people with Cerebral Palsy are partially sighted, and some are even blind due to the pattern of their brain damage. I couldn't get my head around having to deal with both at the same time, it made me feel very lucky!
Being interviewed about life at University!
From University, it went onto the main filming part, CP Teens UK! It was kind of linked through the disability sport element as I use CP Teens UK to get all the latest disability sport info and opportunities out to all of you! I spoke about the CP Teens UK 'Have A Go' day that I am currently organising, which is going to be a bit like the 'Sports Fest' I attended. I got asked why I set up CP Teens UK, so I answered by explaining how I found there was nothing out there and I started becoming quite isolated in the Sixth Form; 'friends' were suddenly becoming more and more independent and didn't want to accomodate me, for example, they wouldn't take me in a few bars in town and hold my drink ... just normal, everyday teenager things that I longed to do. And, although CP Teens UK definitely isn't limited to teenagers, I found that the teenage years are really where you become aware of yourself and you start asking questions etc., and I just felt I would have loved to have someone to talk to my age throughout my secondary school years who had Cerebral Palsy, so I thought I could try and do something for others in my position!
Laura was interviewed as a user of CP Teens UK and one of my best friends as a direct result. You know those soppy, heart-to-heart moments you have with your best friends? It was one of them and I thought we were going to cry, haha! Although I don't agree with Laura that "I've really inspired her" (really?! I throw heavy clubs at your head most Wednesday nights!), it was so lovely and amazing to hear how CP Teens UK has helped her. I always said, if it only helps one person, I've achieved the aim!
The camera man said we needed to have a 'natural' conversation, which is easier said than done when you're wired up to a TV camera! I really wanted to say "have you decided on your dress for Saturday night?! I've got mine sorted!", but it had to be CP Teens UK related - we were like 'ermmmm'!
Discussing CP Teens UK!
We packed all of our CP Teens UK t-shirts to wear, but when it came down to it, we were to embarrassed to put them on! They got a good outing at the Sponsored Wobble, so all is not lost!
Definitely needs a good iron!
I still can't believe I have spoken on both the radio and now the TV within a month - it has most definitely given me one of the biggest confidence boosts. If someone had said to me a month ago, you're going to have 20 minutes air time on the radio, plus a news feature of 5 minutes on Look North, I would have gone into meltdown!
I'd just like to say a quick thank you to the following people for putting their time aside for the filming:
- Adam! We both need locking up, we cannot behave and be serious together! Thank you for doing the interview, not making me laugh during my interview and being one of the best coaches! (Hint hint, wink wink! Hahaha!)
- Laura! You are basically my official partner in crime when it comes to radio and TV interviews! Thank you for being the official photographer and for your lovely interview, and for being such a fantastic friend!
- Andy! Thank you so much for coming down early, giving up your time and letting the cameras into the University session!
- Mum! As always, Mum was there. She's already put so many hours aside for me this week giving me a fantastic birthday and she's still making my cake for Saturday, so to spend most of her day in the EIS made her time even tighter. And, just added to her many hours stood in various sporting venues watching! ... And, thank you for taking me to Meadowhall afterwards!