As we celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day, the parents of Summertown Stars Warriors CP player, Thomas, reveal how playing for the team has had a huge effect on Thomas’ life…
He had Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) three years ago and has been absolutely brilliant at stepping up to the challenge of all the physio he’s asked to do, but he is now starting to get very tired of it!
It therefore felt crucial to find other ways for Thomas to have an active lifestyle.
Thomas participates in a lot of activities where he mixes with able-bodied kids - Cubs, swimming and the playground at school. But it was feeling increasingly important to find a community where he could be active and participate and also feel like he belongs. He wanted to be with other children like him and ‘not the only one who used a frame’. We experimented with wheelchair basketball, race running and then a year ago a friend mentioned a new group forming that wanted to include frame football.
In our first session, there were no other frame users. I was gutted and naturally he was reluctant to join in, but Richard Kerr, the coach, handled it brilliantly. He read Thomas like a book, giving him the space and time to feel when he was ready. Halfway through the session Thomas was joining in with the games and by the end was inviting his able-bodied twin to come and join him so they could ‘practice’ together.
The team has grown through the year, and Thomas now talks proudly about ‘my team’ and ‘my coach’. He is thriving in this growing community. Once, we even forgot his walker (whoops!), but he gamely carried on, using his walking sticks instead. He LOVES it and gives everything a go. He is proud of himself and he is proud of his CP team.
As a parent this is one of the things I had, and continue to, wish and hope for, both for Thomas and for everyone with a diagnosis/condition. That they have a positive view of themselves and understand that their disability it is only a part of who they are. For Thomas, I genuinely think that belonging to Summertown Warriors has given him this awareness. Thomas acknowledges what comes with being with other children who have had the operation ‘like me’ and he is proud of himself, of what he has achieved, and he is proud of his team mates too. They all put the ‘W’ in Warriors!
For Thomas, and for us as his brother and parents, it’s incredible to be part of a community that ‘gets it’ - we understand each other’s challenges. The football is fun. It’s safe. It’s relaxed. We feel blessed.
Summertown CP Football training session for children/adults with Cerebral Palsy are currently held at Five Mile Drive, OX2 8HT, at 1pm every other Sunday.
For more information and register please contact Sarah Griffiths via email@example.com