"I can use a toaster ... just!"
As you may know, CP Teens UK has recently started 'building' a RaceRunning Club. So far there are 4 RaceRunners - Matthew, Rafi, Clare and myself. Ben, who has one leg, also trains alongside us, except for the fact that he is not a RaceRunner. Wednesday nights (when we train) are always really funny as we always throw around disability jokes! Whilst anybody looking from the outside in might be like "oh my gosh, did he/she really just say that?!", we virtually don't stop laughing for the whole hour!
As soon as I arrived, Coach Adam said "Matthew has something to show you..." - Matt then proceeded to attempt to do a version of Swan Lake, which as you can probably imagine for someone with Cerebral Palsy attempting it, it was absolutely hilarious to watch! Matt then suggested that there should be a RaceRunner version of Swan Lake!
Photo credit: www.theartsdesk.com
We were then lining up in individual lanes on the track. Ben has this joke that because I'm a woman, I can't steer my RaceRunner - I said to him seriously, "Ben, don't wobble into my lane otherwise I really will run you over!", to which Ben's reply was, "Yeah, because then I LITERALLY will not have a leg to stand on!", haha!
We were then having a general conversation, which I can't quite remember what we were talking about. It must have been living away from home and cooking as I blurted out "I can use a toaster ... just!". It probably doesn't even sound that funny in the context of this blog, but we were all in stitches!
Photo credit: www.huffingtonpost.com
I know that some people find it hard to joke about disability, or feel that they can't. Personally, I haven't, don't and won't get offended - I love a good giggle! However, it has to be in the right context. If a random person in the street started laughing at me, rather than with me, that wouldn't be okay. But, I don't want people to feel as if they daren't say anything, especially those around me. For me, if you can't crack a few jokes about your disability its as if you're trying to pretend it's not there, for example, if you went out in say odd shoes, you're bound to make a joke out of it - you wouldn't just pretend you didn't have odd shoes on! A few years ago when Jack Carroll was on Britain's Got Talent doing a comedy act around having Cerebral Palsy, I thought it was fantastic!
Photo credit: www.tellymix.co.uk
I usually find that there are 2 'camps' when I crack a Cerebral Palsy joke. There are those people who find it hilarious and they totally lighten up, sometimes even coming up with their own jokes. And then there are those people who physically look pained and uncomfortable - this type of person I don't like so much! If I'm telling the joke and I'm the one with Cerebral Palsy, then I don't really see what the issue is? Its only like me joking about something like having ginger hair, surely? (Not that I have ginger hair!).
Anyway, as most of you will probably know, applications for new Ambassadors for CP Teens UK are open. As part of going for charity status, the Ambassador Programme is having a 'rebrand'. Ambassadors are now going to find themselves with specific roles and jobs within CP Teens UK, e.g. graphic design, event management, social media, mentoring etc. If you feel you would like to apply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Now for Guest Blogger, Adam Rogers. As some of you may have guessed, Adam is the CP Teens UK RaceRunning Coach. In his guest blog, we are thrown back to the CP Teens UK Ball, which happened last month.
WHAT DOES CP TEENS UK MEAN TO ME?
Hi, my name is Adam, and I am Ellie’s RaceRunning Coach. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ellie for the last two years, which means, at least from the outside, I have seen the development of CP Teens UK to where it is today.
When Ellie asked me if I would be her RaceRunning Coach, I didn’t have to think twice … I immediately said yes. Firstly, I believe that any athlete deserves world class coaching (being slightly biased, I think I am a world class coach!), and secondly, I thought what could be hard about coaching RaceRunning? (I had never heard of race running before Ellie mentioned it!). Like Sophie Christiansen OBE said, “Life begins when you step outside your comfort zone”. Agreeing to coach something that I had never heard of was certainly stepping out of my comfort zone.
Through the highs (Ellie becoming Double World Champion, and her training partner, Matthew, winning 4 silvers at the CP World Games, and Ellie’s and Matthew’s training partner, Rafi, winning the Under 16’s National Title in his first ever race, and Clare making massive progress with her training), and the lows (Ellie on the verge of tears on the start line of her first ever event in Manchester in May!), I have not only become a better coach (because I can now safely say I am a RaceRunning coach) and a better person, but I also feel a part of the CP Teens UK family.
Let me explain why I feel part of the CP Teens UK family:
As many of you will know, a few weeks ago, the very first CP Teens UK Ball entered the history books. Although there was 150 people in attendance, I found myself in a moment of quiet reflection (whilst drinking a rum and coke, just in case anyone wants to get me a Christmas present!). I reflected on the ball, CP Teens UK, how Ellie manages to run a non-profit organisation (soon to be charity), study for a university degree and train all at the same time! I still don’t know how see does it.
Earlier on in the night, Ellie’s dad and the guy who was doing the auction (sorry, I can’t remember your name!) mentioned me, and the fact that I was the coach who was responsible for Ellie becoming Double World Champion and winning two Gold Medals at the CP World Games. To my surprise, these mentions resulted in the other 149 people in the room clapping - I was most certainly not expecting that. My thoughts were “why is everyone clapping for me, I’m just a coach!”
As everyone began to leave to go home, someone (I haven’t got a clue who he was!), came up to me, remembered my name, and told me to carry on the good work with Ellie - I was like, “I just turn up and tell her to run faster, she does all the hard work!”
I was also encouraged earlier on in the evening to carry on coaching RaceRunning by Sophie Christiansen OBE - a Paralympic Champion! A Paralympic Champion was telling me, in no uncertain terms, to carry on coaching.
This is what I mean about being part of the CP Teens UK family. These two experiences, amongst many more, have shown me that, although CP Teens UK is specifically for teenagers and young people with CP and similar disabilities, it is also for able bodied people, young and old, near and far. It is about education, knowledge, and social interaction. In the U.S Declaration of Independence, it states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. To me, these are also key to CP Teens UK.
Ellie is more than just one of my athletes - she is a very good friend.
CP Teens UK is more than a non-profit organisation (soon to be charity) - it is a revolution.