Paula & Ronnie's story
Six months ago if someone said you’ll be doing a sports coaching course I would have said….no way!
Paula is one of our fantastic Para-Legacy Agents, which is part of the Motivate East programme. Through her role Paula is inspiring and supporting other disabled people to participate in sport and physical activity. The Para-Legacy Agents programme hasn't just given Paula a new lease for life but has given her nine year old son Ronnie opportunities to share his passion for all things sport related.
"I had been out of it all for 20 odd years. I used to volunteer and get out but once I had kids I stayed in more and I lost a lot of confidence. Then you just focus on what you can’t do. You see I’m not a sit around person really. I used to go to the gym and do athletics and swimming when I was younger. But once I turned into an older teenager I was more self-conscious. I’m not putting a swimming cossie on, no way! So I started doing less. I would always say to the kids, get out there, don’t just do nothing. But I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching.
My mate did the first course, she told me about it, and I thought “what do I know about sport”. But once I’d spoken to Colin (Para-Legacy Agent Coordinator) there was no getting away. He knew I was interested, I didn’t say no to being involved but I was dragging my feet. So he kept calling. At the beginning of the course I kept saying, I don’t do this, I can’t see this, and I won’t be able to see the presentation slides. But for every concern there was an answer for it. On so many courses there is no support, but with this my concerns weren’t just brushed aside.
I finished the course in April. I passed. I was proud of myself. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it hadn’t been for Colin, Robin, and the friends I had made on the course. The trainers did things to make sure that I could do the course, they would print things in a bigger format and put all the information on to a USB stick.
The great thing is that everyone is patient and accepting of whatever peoples limitations are. Meeting the other agents has been great! I’ve made loads of new friends. I’d say to them “How am I going to do this, I can’t see the ball”. They would talk me through it. Luke (another Para-Legacy Agent) would say “its ok, you’ll have an assistant”. He’s done the course before and he understands because he has disabilities and problems with his sight. Next I’m doing this multi-sports coaching course. Six months ago if someone said you’ll be doing a sports coaching course I would have said….no way!
I was volunteering at the Queen’s Baton Relay and I brought Ronnie (Paula’s 9 year old son) along with me. I always had a feeling that Ronnie would do something in sport. He really got involved in the day and led some of the sessions, when he was coaching I was really proud. I gave him an opportunity to do something other people can’t.
I used to stress myself out about what I could and couldn’t do, so I would avoid doing anything new. Now I can confidently say I can do this part and not that part. My confidence is so much better. It makes me a much happier person. I’ve done loads of exciting things! I met Prince Harry and Boris Johnson. It was a bit scary but it was fun. All this stuff is so far out of my comfort zone it’s unreal, but sometimes I forget that!
Now I’m looking forward to Ronnie being my volunteer."
“No mum, you’ll be my volunteer” Ronnie
"I’m nine but I’m ten in two weeks.
I thought mum’s job was an old person job. It then started getting interesting. She was going to the Olympic Park where the athletes go. I thought you just had to watch but then I found out that you can play. I love sport, football, cricket everything.
We went to the Olympic Park, we’ve been there a lot. We had a go with Bikeworks, where you can ride a big bike that’s for disabled people. There was wheelchair too! I went with my mum and Kieran, my mate from school. I did this sport called Boccia and you had to get your teams’ ball next to the jack. When I coached Boccia I went with three of my friends. They met me and my mum in the park. My mates wanted me to go and play and stop coaching but I said no. They gave me a special t-shirt but the problem is its pink.
To be truthful, I like bossing people around so it was good. Ozzie the coach said ‘I don’t know what I would do without you.' "
If you are interested in becoming a Para-Legacy Agent or want to find out more about the programme please contact Colin King on 07460862886 or through email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find out more about our Para-Legacy Agents programme here
Motivate East is a partnership project which is delivered by the London Legacy Development Corporation, London Sport and WheelPower in partnership with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and the Growth Boroughs (Hackney, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest).
To find out more about Motivate East visit - http://motivateeast.co.uk