The Special Olympics Journey!!!!!!! – a guest post

Hi.

I hope you’re all ok.

The post you’re about to read has been written by a friend of mine (KB’s Mama).

I’m absolutely delighted (and a little bit giddy, tbh!) to be sharing this on here (my first guest post – HOORAH!); not just because it’s been written by a friend, but also because it’s a post about KB, who’s training exceptionally hard for when she takes part in the Special Olympics later on this year and the trials and tribulations of her educational journey.

A SPECIAL OLYMPIAN!!!!!!!!!

HOW EXCITING IS THAT!!!???!!!

And, as a result, I think KB deserves lots of recognition for all her hard work and commitment…so, by sharing her Mama’s words, this is my contribution in spreading the word about this amazing young woman…and I think her parents deserve a great big pat on the back for all their hard work too! (and HUGE thanks from me for all the advice, support and signposting KB’s mama has provided to me and MANY other parent/carers…and for the much needed hug when we first met!)

Right, I’m off.  I’ll leave you in the very capable hands of KB’s Mama now…

Until next time.

xoxo

p.s. If anyone could provide any support to KB in whatever way, please don’t hesitate in getting in touch via the comments box or follow the just giving link below.

p.p.s. PLEASE take a couple of minutes to leave a ‘good luck’ message in the comments box below for KB…it’d be so lovely if we could let her know that LOTS of people, who may’ve never met her, are spurring her on…oooh, and watch out for her on the telly…getting her Gold medal (fingers and toes crossed!)

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The Special Olympics Journey!!!!!!!

KB1

I am mum like any other mum taking a journey with her child… well not quite, I have a child with SEND; so much as I champion inclusion, it doesn’t always happen; your child doesn’t always make the friends they want to; your child doesn’t achieve the GCSE’s that they NEED to move on in the academic world and the mainstream schools aren’t quite equipped enough to really up skill your child with life skills (so numeracy….not much point with knowing all about equations if you can’t tell the time – well that’s what I think…..)

As KB and I move towards the Post 16 phase of her life I started to think OMG…. Its like the Ibis…. Fall off the end and hope you can clamber back up the edges to hold on until adulthood…..

So this is where it began …… reception through to year 10 some good bits, not many, but we survived…… then ….Year 11 bit of a nightmare…. And in October we start looking for a college that would accept a child who practically could excel but in theory needs support… so Nov 12… KB gets a place studying level 2 equine … KB’s dream has come true (or so she thought)…… so a few visits getting to know the staff, the venues (plural more than one site).

All is going well and in May 13 it gets even better, because we learnt about the Mencap Swimming Competition in Cardiff, a ‘Special Olympics event’… never heard of it.. But KB goes along to compete and win a medal or two…. And there we meet the SOGB (that would be Special Olympics Great Britain) development officer who happens to mention that cycling is also a special Olympics sport but alas nothing in the Northwest region.   She then explains about the Special Olympics, which if you don’t want to know, move to the next paragraph because this is the official bit of this blog   “The Special Olympics movement, founded in 1968, strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. The aim is for the athletes to find joy, confidence and fulfilment “on the playing field and in life”.  They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.” “The ethos behind the Special Olympic movement is something we believe goes much further than the exploits to win a medal, although that in itself would be incredible, but for the reasons laid out above we feel there are many valuable messages that can be embraced by all organisations to help make this world a more inclusive place to live”.

For those who know little or nothing of the Special Olympics, here is a link: http://www.specialolympics.org/

KB2

So now you know… well we meet a regional swim club called ‘Cheshire Penguins’ and she joins this club they meet in Northwick (local not… but we persevere and they are a good bunch of committed volunteers) – KB gets her SO number so she can compete and then we learnt here is National SO cycling competition coming to the NW region, so a no brainer really Kb enters. Not knowing what to expect, I email the head coach to ask about the competition and what kind of standard are we looking at …. If she can cycle in a straight line anything after that is bonus I’m told… Phew she can do that me thinks…

So June 14….at the Nationals and we learn about divisioning and by this I mean the athletes based on a 1km time trial, which means they compete against fellows athletes with similar times to challenge all riders. KB was placed in the first division for the 15km Road Race and 10km Time Trial, all against male athletes where she placed 5th in both events and then won GOLD in the second division 10km Road Race.  KB is buzzing with happiness and feels that;

“For the first time I feel like a competitor with a chance to compete and maybe win a medal”.

She becomes known as the “find of the weekend”; with the head coach stating “Kiera will be a great ambassador for Special Olympics”. And on that note Kb gets asked if she would like to apply to the GB cycling squad to complete in the 2015 World Games in los Angeles … Kb says YES Yes Yes… the head coach then says ahhh by the way mum and dad that will be £2500 please before you blink…. Then there is … and the list grew before our eyes… so application form filled in and the waits starts…tick tick tick… KB does GCSE’s….

In July I receive a phone call saying that the college admissions have decided to revoke their offer of a place based on the fact that KB wouldn’t achieve the academic results needed for level 2 course ( I know you will be thinking to yourself surely they knew that – THEY DID). What they could offer was level 1 animal care … nothing like the course she had been previously offered; now picture the scene – we are on holiday camping, so I take the call whilst lay in a tent in the middle of a field with not much signal and I’m struggling to get my head around this….. So with little phone signal (in a field), I start to ring around in a blind state of panic looking for an equine course any level at this point where my child could be with horses….

Skip to August… Kb has been offered an interview at a not so local college- it’s a 60 mile round trip 4 days a week… she goes for the interview – and loves it, the staff are lovely they are honest about what they can offer etc … only one problem, which I haven’t mentioned yet… I am a disabled person myself -I have M.E. CFS. (Which means I get blooim fatigued when I don’t have a plan… the saying in my house is if plan A doesn’t work remember there are another 25 letters of the alphabet) There is NO WAY I can drive that every day and not drop down dead in a week…. Plan B: Apply for transport via the LA.  Application sent in Connexions support letter sought (they did really help me out) and a BIG FAT NO letter comes back… and wait for it ..Because KB didn’t have transport in part 5 of her SEN statement which she didn’t need as the local secondary school as round the corner who we didn’t ask for it. KB wasn’t eligible for transport to college and I found out that 16- 18 isn’t a statutory duty.. blah blah blah… so I challenge and the LA say ok we shall help fund a bus pass. But KB couldn’t take two buses and a train to get to this college she wouldn’t know how to… this is late August and I have a duty to send my child to some form of education, training until her 18th birthday (the raising of the participation age RPA) or I can get fined.

On 1st Sept I get a phone call from a lovely lady called Laura –I’m hands free travelling to collect KB from pony day. Laura gives me some rather exciting news, at which point I burst into tears, I know whilst driving…. KB has been offered a place in the GB cycling squad and she is going to the World Games in Los Angeles.

KB3

KB is wearing pink

OMG…. I ring the local college and ask can KB and I come and see someone we need their help…. On 3rd Sept KB is installed into a traineeship covering maths, English, a work placement at a wonderful equine place called RED EARTH (Fabulous) and leaving time to start cycle training on a serious level… Wow next employ a cycle coach, employ cycle buddies to help KB whilst on the road to be safe, and then FUNDRAISING starts big time…. (if I ever see a raffle ticket again it will be too way too soon) we applied for funding – hitting lots of brick walls along the way …let’s not talk about British Cycling and SportsAid… that in itself is another story.

KB won the Disabled Sport person of the year 2014, been in the local paper, has presented DfE Certificates for Stockport, Was nominated in the MEN as the one to watch talent award, was in the final for Sports award from the National Include Me Too awards, won more Special Olympics swimming medals, delivered a presentation in front of 750 pupils at a school in Wigan, has been filmed by ITV, still trains 4/5 times per week and is a truly an inspirational young woman, who I am so very proud of…

People have been so generous and here are just some people that we would like to thank….

  • Family and Friends esp. KB’s Nana
  • Disability Sports Development Officer, Sport & Active Living Section
  • Planet X
  • Breaking Barriers NW inc. parent carers
  • Cameron Foster Foundation
  • The Woolard Family
  •  John Needham Trust
  • Manchester Wheelers
  • Carillion work colleagues (KB dad works there and they like cake)
  • Parents from Sportscity/Eastland riders
  • Stockport PIP
  • National Cycle Centre café staff
  •  Joe Malik – KB fabulous cycle coach
  • Matt Rotherham – KB cycle buddy
  • Jamie Agar – KB cycle buddy
  • Jade Mottley (Performance For All) – fabulous Personal Trainer
  • Local Coop
  • SOGB volunteers esp. Ted, Tom, Andy, Laura, Chris,

Life hasn’t been easy being a disabled person and having to juggle lots of balls and we have had our moments with the local college – I sort of took my finger off the pulse when for a short while, we asked for travel training in Sept 14 and in May 15 and ended up having to shout really loud and make a formal complaint that suddenly travel training is happening… It seems so wrong on every level that the only way you get a service is to shout …. So so wrong and so so tiring …

Then there is Transition from children services to adult services …umm let’s not go there … YET anyway….

And it doesn’t stop here – Kb has now decided that she would like to try being a cycle coach so plan D… (feels like X) KB booked on level 1 cycle training, with a view to a sports course in Sept 15….. and throughout all of this is the heading through this journey

The only” North West CYCLIST chosen to represent Great Britain at the Special Olympic World Games… that’s a hint, the ONLY… hence the next stage is to create a community fund enabling Kiera and other people with a learning difficulty to compete for the NW Region in future Special Olympic events. So here is a pitch to anyone out there who knows someone who can help and offer financial support or ideas can be offered will help make a Northwest Special Olympics Cycle Hub….

Please support Kiera by donating to http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Team-Byland or text KBWG61 to 70070 & follow the instructions.

So going back to the ethos behind the Special Olympic movement is something we believe goes much further than the exploits to win a medal, although that in itself would be incredible, but for the reasons laid out above we feel there are many valuable messages that can be embraced by all organisations to help make this world a more inclusive place to live. Here here…… and so what happens next KB continues to train, will compete at the SO national Cycle Event in June 15 at Tameside and hopefully get some good times for LA, and if you asked KB what she wants she will say a MEDAL please – what colour? – Why GOLD mum….. but KB is already my gold medallist for just being her, for teaching me the art of patience, to have a voice, to embrace inclusion and stand firmly for what I believe in and thats the equality of opportunity… I know my child may never be equal but all I ask for is the opportunity……

So ESPN have the filming rights to the World Games so if you happen to be watching the opening ceremony is on 25th July….. Sat 26th is me and my hubby’s birthday and cycling we think starts on the 27th July for divisioning…. The latter isn’t set in stone… so back to being a mum again…. And this is my gorgeous, funny, witty delightful daughter who I am so very proud of KB

KB4

KB5

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3 Responses to The Special Olympics Journey!!!!!!! – a guest post

  1. Nic McGrath says:

    Good luck Kiera! Have a ball at the World Games…I’ve coached for Special Olympics and Paralympics so have been to a few…it’ll be an amazing experience! Enjoy every minute! Nic xxx

  2. KB, I’m going to have to wear my sunglasses when I watch you on the TV, because I know you’re going to SHINE!
    Hope you enjoy every minute of this amazing, exciting adventure.
    With much love from all of us here at Broccoli HQ.
    xoxo

  3. Lorraine Brewis says:

    Amazingly eloquent as ever Jacqui…Keira we know you will have an amazing experience in LA, it has been a pleasure to watch your journey and we can’t wait to see you reach for the stars. One in a million you are Keira…very special. All our love and luck, Roy, Lorraine and Hannah xxx

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