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Another trip around the sun for CP Teens UK

I don’t quite know how it has got to this point again where I’m writing the final blog post of the year! As ever, it has been an exciting and fun-filled year for CP Teens UK and I always like to take the opportunity to do a round up and look ahead to the next year. CP Teens UK turned 3-years-old this year, I always liken it to being a proud parent - I have watched it, and all of you, grow from day one, and it is actually really magical to watch! Just when I think it can’t get any better, it does and it makes all of the hard work worth it (although I do really enjoy it!) from seeing 4-year-old Noah chase around at the CP Tinies RaceRunning to seeing many CP Teens on the dance floor at the Ball.

So, this year kicked off with a team of new Ambassadors for CP Teens UK - there were some old faces and some new faces, and Chloe Tear and Cat Lee became Head Ambassadors. The weekly Ambassador Diary was then launched where the Ambassadors take it in turns to post an entry each week to tell you what they’ve been up to and to share their words of wisdom!

In February, an 8-week project began with Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I had to do a work placement as part of my University degree, so I took the opportunity to combine this with CP Teens UK and I took 2 RaceRunning bikes into the Under 5’s department at the Ryegate Centre - this is a department within Sheffield Children’s for children with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy/brain injuries. The kids I worked with loved the bikes and the feedback from the parents was amazing! At the end of the 8-week period, CP Teens UK assisted hospital staff to put on the first ‘Sport For Life’ day for patients by putting on RaceRunning and getting other sport clubs and organisations to come along for the children. The day was a huge success and led to the creation of the ‘CP Tinies RaceRunning Club’ - this is currently a weekly session for children from 2-8 years.

March saw the second Sponsored Wobble in Chatsworth Park. Over 40 people turned out to walk, ‘wobble’ or wheel the 5k in aid of CP Teens UK. Afterwards, a BBQ was held for CP Teens UK Ambassadors and CP Teens UK RaceRunners. Both the Wobble and the BBQ were fantastic, well-attended social events and luckily, the weather stayed fine for both

Also in March, the senior CP Teens UK RaceRunning Club were nominated at the Yorkshire Disability Sport Awards for ‘Team of the Year’ following an extremely successful 2015, including World Titles and World Golds. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the winning night for the RaceRunning group, but it was a lovely social evening out in Leeds for the group. I am a RaceRunner myself and I really enjoyed the evening!

April saw the first ever ‘Zamba Sockathon’! In the ‘mad’ thing that is my life, from January to April I was filming for the Channel 4 series ‘Rescue Dog to Super Dog’, which was later aired in June. As part of the programme, Zamba (the rescue dog I was matched with) was trained to pull socks off of feet! To cut a long story short, the ‘Zamba Sockathon’ raised money for CP Teens UK by Zamba being sponsored to pull off as many socks as he could! Again, the event was well-attended and it was shared with the cause ‘A Lift For Josh’ - Josh has Cerebral Palsy and needs a lift in his home to access his bedroom just like his twin brother. Thanks to the event, Josh is now a RaceRunner at the CP Tinies group! A big thank you to Tim & Jennie Dann at the Peacock Inn for putting on the event & for allowing the TV cameras in!

In June, the ‘CP Teens Summer Get Together’ took place in a pub in Chesterfield following the CP Sport Athletics Series competition in Doncaster. A good night was had by all, including Ambassadors Matthew Humphreys and Katie Toft. Plans are underway to see how the 2017 event can be made bigger and better. A big thank you to Mike at the Blue Stoops for putting on the event.

Also in June, CP Teens UK and CP Sport joined together in an official partnership with the aim of getting more people with Cerebral Palsy into sport, and in doing so help tackle the issue of social isolation that can often be experienced by people with Cerebral Palsy and to educate people that those with Cerebral Palsy can still play & participate in sport. CP Teens UK particularly works with CP Sport on their RaceRunning/Athletics and Swimming programmes.

In July, I opened the CP Teens UK inbox to find out it had been nominated for a 2016 National Diversity Award! I was absolutely shocked and beyond over the moon! CP Teens UK didn’t win, but I can’t say how chuffed I was that it had been nominated - very proud!

On the 10th July, myself and some of the CP Teens UK RaceRunning Club took off from Manchester Airport and flew out to Copenhagen to compete in the CPISRA European Championships. It was a great week and Team England were amazing - returning with 8 Golds, 2 Silvers and 3 Bronze medals. The staff at Manchester Airport were very interested in us and about where we had been on our return!

Whilst I and the RaceRunners were away in Copenhagen, Brampton Manor in Chesterfield put on their annual very well-attended Hog Roast on in aid of CP Teens UK. A big thank you to Craig Lynch and his team!

September brought the CP Teens UK RaceRunners to the London Olympic Park for the inaugural Parallel London event. All of the RaceRunners, including myself, completed 5k around the Olympic Park in aid of CP Teens UK. CP Teens UK Ambassador, Gavin, also joined us from Scotland and completed the 10k on his RaceRunner. Probably my best ‘CP Teens UK moment’ of 2016 was watching Clare complete her 5k and cross the finish line! For those of you who don’t know Clare, only in April completing 100m was a huge challenge for her. We didn’t think she’d be able to do the 5k - as I crossed the finish line not far behind the male RaceRunners, it caught me by surprise how tough it was with all the uphill bits - running up a hill is hard enough, but RaceRunning up a hill is tough with the added weight of the bike. So, as she turned the final corner and picked up speed for the final 100m we couldn’t believe our eyes! She had done it, every step of the way!

October brought the annual event that everyone seems to countdown to - the 2016 CP Teens UK Ball! This was the second Ball, but still just as great. The Celebrity Guest this year was ‘Lost Voice Guy’ - I’ve never seen so many people trying not to slide under the table at once through laughter! This year’s Ball had the first ever CP Teens UK Awards - the categories were ‘CP Teens UK Positive Role Model of the Year’ and ‘CP Teens UK Inspirational Person of the Year’. Chloe Tear won Positive Role Model of the Year for always helping and guiding young people like herself through her popular blog ‘Life as a Cerebral Palsy Student’ and her role as Head Ambassador for CP Teens UK. Clare Hands won Inspirational Person of the Year for her immense determination - you only needed to see her 5k finish!

A week after the Ball, the inaugural Accessible Derbyshire Awards at Chatsworth House took place. I am absolutely delighted, shocked, chuffed … you name it! … to say that CP Teens UK won the ’Most Inspirational Organisation’ Award! As ever, I don’t really understand why, and more to the point, the award was a ‘joint’ award with myself, haha! The ‘title’ of the award was actually ‘Most Inspirational Person/Organisation’ - I can tell you now, the most and only inspirational thing about me is how long I can actually lie in bed for in the morning given the chance, haha! But, thank you so much to Gillian and Jane at Accessible Derbyshire, it means a lot. It was a really great night and I was delighted to collect the award with Clare & Rafi, two of the CP Teens UK RaceRunners.

If I thought that receiving an Accessible Derbyshire award was a bit crazy, then I don’t know what I’d define what happened in November as! The Pride of Sport and The Pride of Britain Awards recognised CP Teens UK & CP Teens UK RaceRunning and published a story - say what?! Super crazy and super honoured!

To finish the year, on Wednesday it is the annual CP Teens UK RaceRunning Christmas Meal, which is always a laugh and a great social event for the CP Teens RaceRunners. This year, the RaceRunning Club has almost doubled in size. Orla, Max, Jack & Rose have joined the senior RaceRunning group, and Lilia, Josh & Noah have joined the CP Tinies group. Max, Jack & Rose all got into RaceRunning through the 8-week project/Sport For Life Day with Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Jack also attended a CP Sport and CP Teens RaceRunning Taster Day at the EIS in Sheffield in May. I would like to say a very big thank you to the new CP Teens UK RaceRunning Coach, Andy Longden. He took on the role back in May & I couldn’t be more grateful. He originally coached me the Club Throw and in May when the position became free and I was afraid about the future of CP Teens UK RaceRunning, he was determined to help and he juggled his commitments to ensure the RaceRunning would continue to operate and he took on the full coaching role. He is a volunteer and coaches the RaceRunning for the pure love of it. Personally, I’ve massively smashed all of my PB’s since Andy has been coach, and so have all of the other RaceRunners.

Away from the ‘main’ CP Teens UK events of 2016, lots of things have been happening in the world of CP Teens UK. Last week, Ambassador Josh Halliday held an event in Edinburgh in aid of CP Teens UK - he did a speech on what CP Teens UK means to him and raised £157! Head Ambassador Chloe Tear was nominated for a 2016 National Diversity Award alongside CP Teens UK and a Kids Count Award - she was highly commended in both! Ambassadors Abbie & Matt moved away to College and Chloe Tear, Chloe Smith, Nathan and Cat all started at their chosen Universities. Matthew was invited to speak at the ACPC Conference (physio conference) where he spoke about RaceRunning - as his best friend, as well as founder of CP Teens, I was very proud of him as I know how he struggles with his confidence when it comes to speaking in front of people. My cousin, Abi, and my University friend, Joe, both completed half marathons in aid of CP Teens UK - I am always so touched when people choose CP Teens, let alone run half marathons as that is some serious dedication to CP Teens! Someone from the Cabinet Office also gave us a ring the other day to find out more about CP Teens UK, oo!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has been involved in yet another fantastic year! Whether you’re a CP Teen, a RaceRunner, a volunteer, a marathon runner, an event venue, my Mum (although there’s only one of you!), a fundraiser, a donator at the Ball, an Ambassador, a follower, a friend of mine, a parent, a partner organisation, a Ball Celebrity Guest, the list is endless … thank you so much, from both myself and the children & young people that CP Teens UK helps,

So, now it is time for 2017 for CP Teens UK where it will turn 4-years-old and full charitable status is just around the corner. I ask myself how has this tiny ‘idea’ that once only existed in my head the organisation that it is today? I am certainly very excited for another CP Teens UK year. In the 12-week period between mid-January and the beginning of April, this blog may be a little quiet - this is because I have my final semester at University, and no, I cannot believe I have just typed that! I can remember blogging on here just before I started at University about the fact that I was about to start and it only seems like a couple of months ago!

I’m very much looking forward to being able to pay my full attention to CP Teens UK come April and I’ve got some new and exciting ideas which I just haven’t been able to implement and carry out whilst I’ve been at University and trying to get my degree - emphasis on the word ‘trying’ there, haha!

I suppose all that is left to be said from myself is I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year! And remember, don’t drink too much (if you’re of drinking age!) - we struggle to walk at the best of times and we can’t drink & drive with our wheelchairs!