Fresh back from the CP World Championships in Argentina, James Blackwell tells us about his journey, his message for the children in our SEND community and why he is honoured to be an ambassador for SGPC
Like many members of our community, you have cerebral palsy which we know affects people on lots of different ways. How does it affect you?
As a young boy reaching the milestone of starting school you found that you were not able to attend a mainstream school. What impact did this have on you?
You kept your CP a secret from everyone except for close family, you even kept it a secret from your then fiance Holly. This must have been very difficult for you, was this something you decided as a result of your school experience?
Football mad, you started football at age 8 and you showed real talent going on to play semi-professionally, but an encounter coming up against footballer Ibrahim Diallo whilst playing for Kingswood AFC made a huge impact on you. You decided to make a change of direction with your football and changes to how you related to people in your personal life. Tell us about that.
Being able to wear the England shirt and competing at such an elite level must have been a dream come true. Was it all you imagined it would be?
Tell us about your England team and footballing highlights
Who is your footballing legend?
Do you have any pre match superstitions or routines?
There are different classifications for CP football, which classification do you fall under?
What was the reaction from everyone when you told them about your CP?
How do you feel things have moved on since your early childhood days in terms of education and disability? Have we become more inclusive?
Do you have a message or hint and tips for our parent carers who might be looking for ways to enable their child with a disability or special needs follow their ambitions?
Your parents Paul and Julie must have been a great source of support and inspiration, they were told that you would never walk. What in particular are the key things they did to enable you to be the successful footballer you are and the successful man you are outside of football?
Do you have any mottos, quotes or words of inspiration that stay with you to motivate you when the training and conditioning programme gets tough?
Your story is really inspirational, is there anything would like to say directly to our SEND children and young people, words of encouragement or valuable lessons from your experience?
Tell us why you are a passionate ambassador for SGPC?
What change would you like to see for the disability and SEND community?
We know from what you have told SGPC, Ofsted and the CQC during last November's inspection that The Local Offer in its current form does not work for you and our community and needs to be done again. So lets bin it and start again!
So what is this Local Offer thing I have seen posts and discussions about?
During the Ofsted and CQC inspection of 2017, one of the biggest bugbears you told us and Ofsted was a lack of easy to access information on services and processes. The Local Offer is supposed to be the place where you can access all of that stuff. It is not very good in its present form and some of you don't know what it is, and its name doesn't make it obvious. Check it out here and challenge yourself to find the information that you need in an easily accessible format, if you are able to, you are better than we are!