Deaf Life21st May 2014

Aspiring, Influencing & Achieving as a Deaf Youngster

Elan Môn Gilford is a deaf youngster making the most out of every opportunity she gets

by Elan Môn Gilford

Foreword by Sarah Lawrence – Being deaf can, and often is life changing. Sadly, with well meaning hearing people usually advising, cajoling and deciding on what is best, being deaf can end up limiting a youngster’s later life choices. This includes educational achievement, work opportunities, well, wealth, health and happiness really. But, it doesn’t have to be like that and there are plenty of successful deaf people out there, each one demonstrating what is possible. Don’t get me wrong, it will be tougher, there will be barriers, there will be low moments when tremendous durability will be necessary to plough on positively – but it can be done.

Attending a disability conference recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Elan Môn Gilford, a delightful young lady from Anglesey, in North Wales. Elan is deaf and at 15 years of age she is an extraordinary young personality whose story I felt was worth telling. This is Elan Môn Gilford, written by Elan herself.

Elan’s Story

I am a fifteen year old girl, humorous and full of energy! I Live in Llanfairpwll and I am a pupil in year 10, Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge, Anglesey. I have had a hearing loss since the age of three and I wear two hearing aids – I am no good without them! Every day is a challenge for me, but this is not a barrier in school or in doing activities or voluntary work.

Sport plays a huge role in my life as I commit over 10 hours a week, including going to 4 or 5 weekly training sessions and a number of coaching sessions at school, for the Urdd, and within my local community. As a pupil at Ysgol David Hughes on Anglesey, I have competed for the school in a wide range of sports, including netball, football, badminton, cross country running, athletics and mountain biking.

Despite my ability across a wide range of different sports, I devote the majority of my time to my main passions within sport, karate and netball. These sports have been where I have experienced a majority of my success. 

Five years have passed since I attended my first course with the Urdd. These sessions proved to be very valuable to me, allowing me to develop and move along the Welsh Netball pathway. I train with Llangefni Netball club and I have won the player of the season award for the past three years. I have captained the Eryri Netball under 14’s team in Merthyr Tydfil where I was chosen as one of the twenty best players throughout Wales.

I am now in the Eryri Netball under 16’s squad and a current member of the High Performance Netball Club North West Wales, training once a month at Maes Glas, Bangor. As a result, I was invited to the Wales Netball Team trials under 17’s last year but the outcome was, “maybe next year”!

“Even though I’m classified as disabled, I don’t think my disability has affected my ability to compete. Sometimes I have to work harder, but it hasn’t stopped me competing at a level I want to compete at”

I am a dedicated member of Zanshin Karate Cymru, Caernarfon and train three times a week. Winning the UKASKO National Championships in Manchester (Kata Gold Medallist) and becoming the UK Kata Champion at my age grade felt like a huge achievement. I was extremely proud.

As part of my role as Young Ambassador, I assist with various 5x60 activities during lunchtime, after school and at weekends. Being an Ambassador I have been able to be part of a team ' Young Ambassadors - Commonwealth Games Media 2014' in Cardiff. I am a Millennium Volunteer and also assist with Môn Active. I have received my 100 hours volunteering certificate and I am well on my way to receiving my 200 hours certificate for my volunteering work in the community and beyond.

If I can gain such skills, I think anyone can. I have attended numerous sport courses run by the Urdd and these have most definitely proved their worth in the way they inspire and attract children who are not as sporty. Seeing primary school children benefit from the activities are great - the benefits could be a life changing experience for so many children / young people in Wales.

Currently I am studying 'British Sign Language'.  After I have finished the course I would like to volunteer with deaf children and young people so that they too can have the opportunity to enjoy and venture to the best of their ability in sport. I feel that it is important for everyone to have equal opportunities to participate in activities regardless of ability or disability.

As a Young Ambassador representing Anglesey, I was fortunate to attend the Disability Sport Wales Stakeholder Conference at the Cardiff City Stadium on the 28th of April 2014. To date, it was the best day ever, I got to be on the ‘Athletes Panel Session’. I met many truly inspirational people/athletes at the meeting and made new friends, even famous friends!

“My ability to compete at a high level through mainstream sport has improved my confidence, and through coaching I can prove to others that having a disability doesn’t have to affect what you can do!”

As recognition of my hard work, determination and success I have been nominated to represent the Urdd on behalf of Anglesey as a Commonwealth 2014 baton bearer at the National Eisteddfod in Bala, North Wales. This news has certainly spurred me on to continue with my efforts even though my schedule is full!

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Article by Elan Môn Gilford

posted in Community / Deaf Life

21st May 2014