Hello everyone, I am Jack, and I have Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. I use crutches and a wheelchair to manage my mobility. I have attended mainstream education at every stage of my academic journey.

A little about me, I have always enjoyed sports and I mean all sports rugby, tennis, and boxing. My main passion is football. I am a massive Arsenal fan. I played Boccia at school, getting to the national finals in Nottingham, when I was in year ten. I love rock music. I love video games, when I get the opportunity to play them. I enjoy spreading positivity and now I am working on PositivelyCerebralPalsy, where I am sharing my journey with my CP, and going to university was a turning point in my journey.

I finished college with the equivalent of triple-A* in my BTEC level three, and considering I was the first student with special needs to study the course, I was teaching the other learners how to play Boccia. Then we had a unit modelled around an inclusive sport that the college continued to run after I left.

Now it was time to pick a university, my three options were De Monfort in Leicester to study sports history, for sure an interesting course but the course was impractical, as it was split across Leicester which would have meant using public transport, which would have been difficult. The distance from home was not the right pick; was the distance from home being a four-hour drive for my family and I needed them close enough if I needed help they could get to me. Shame as it would have been good to have been there when they won the league.

Brighton was another option but in the end, I wasn’t sure about the course. I went to the University of Bedfordshire open day and from that moment it just felt right. Logistically, it was perfect being an hour away from my family, as I said they could get to me if I needed them, but I was able to be far enough away that I could have my independence.

“The course seemed the right fit because it was a natural progression from what I had done at college”

I mean my mum still got my shopping and did my washing so thank you, mum. The course seemed the right fit because it was a natural progression from what I had done at college and covered a wider breadth and depth of subjects and material. I had an amazing tutor in Amanda Jones, who was the course leader of Sports Studies. Amanda was so accommodating throughout my time at university. I was so lucky to have someone so understanding of my disability when it was required but also my mental health needs. I would have my down days with assignments and I would have her support to apply for extensions. All the teachers were incredible.

All the support I received at university from student services and the personal tutors I had in Anne and Dee, and my note takers Tony and Stuart, and the amazing library team I couldn’t have done it without them. I would recommend the support that is on offer at the University of Bedfordshire.

 “I would say that’s one of the things that I enjoyed the most, was the social aspect of meeting good people, and having movie nights with my flatmates”

I wasn’t much of a clubber. I went on the odd occasion and had a royally good time, but I much more enjoyed going for a drink with friends. I would say that’s one of the things that I enjoyed the most, was the social aspect of meeting good people, and having movie nights with my flatmates. Even though I didn’t fully take advantage of going out because I was committed to my studies. I did it in my style and that was brilliant because Bedford was full of pubs and nice scenery.

My course opened up so many doors for me to have some of the best experiences of my life. Firstly, I went to Club La Santa, which is the number one sports resort in the world. I went to volunteer in my first year on the Volcano Triathlon, which is an amazing event. It’s where 500 athletes of varying ability there can be winners of Ironman Hawaii, one of the most testing endurance races for people that are doing their first triathlon, to people that have overcome illness and they have a new outlook on life and they want to compete. This is one of the most amazing places I have been with every sport you can dream of and a family feel around the resort and the ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I completed an organisation report on how they run their business model and analysed it around the volcano Triathlon. I went back five years in a row. What an amazing place!

I was also lucky enough to be a part of the University of Bedfordshire wheelchair basketball team that used to train once a week, but was able to compete in the university championships in Manchester for the weekend. A great sports lighting quick, and so competitive end to end. We had a great team spirit. It was an amazing feeling to feel included and everyone was on an equal playing field regardless of disability or not and everyone could have a great time.

My Masters in Physical Education and Sports Pedagogy was a decision I took because I enjoyed learning and gaining new knowledge so much I thought yes it is another year of study. I believed that I was capable to succeed on the course. One of the highlights was being taught occupational socialisation which meant I was really able to reflect upon my experiences from school these were really powerful lessons, I understood how my journey in education had shaped me and why I wanted to become a teacher. I was often not able to join in with the other students and I would be on the playground doing adapted sport but I wanted to be with my classmates and not left to the side. I wanted a more inclusive PE lesson then and I still want to break down barriers and make PE enjoyable for everyone.

My dissertations became biggest opportunities have been in my two dissertations. They have been based around my experiences as a student with cerebral palsy, and my love of sport and physical education. My experiences at secondary school were what informed my studies, my undergraduate title was: Is Physical Education inclusive or exclusive of students with physical impairments? This research then led to discussions of the use of technology. My master’s dissertation naturally progressed to: How can technology influence teacher’s pedagogical practice within Physical Education for those with physical impairments? This was an interesting study on how technology can make a difference to inclusive physical education. I hope to continue my journey towards a Ph.D. in the future.

I had a fantastic experience at university. I went as a young person and left a man, where I grew and learned independence and self-growth as a person with cerebral palsy. I feel so lucky to have such a supportive family to help me through my journey. Now I have left and I have had connections with the university to keep in contact and work within circles of disability sport. I believe that university was a fantastic opportunity.

You can connect with Jack with the links below.

Instagram

Blog

If you like this blog, have a look at our blogging page Cosmo Life