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Teen shares secrets of success at SEND conference

A football mad teenager spoke inspiringly about how he refused to let his disability stop him from pursuing his dream at a conference for parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Jude Aston, who told his story at a recent conference at Molineux Stadium, is congratulated by Meredith Teasdale, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Education
Jude Aston and Meredith Teasdale

When Jude Aston realised that having cerebral palsy would prevent him from fulfilling his ambition to become a professional footballer, he decided he would do the next best thing - by becoming a journalist and cover the sport he loves.

And when his school - Highfields in Penn - launched its own TV channel last year, Jude's journey began.

The 13 year old said: "I have cerebral palsy which reduces the use of my right side, but that will never stop me trying to achieve what I want, whether that's in sport, education or life in general as I see myself as no different to anybody else.

"I'm football mad and my dream is to become a sports journalist. I became Highfields TV's video editor and sports reporter, and I now film and report on school football matches and other sporting events.

"I stay after school to put the episodes together which takes a lot of hard work and dedication but I'm okay with that as I know it will pay off in the long run."

Since working for Highfields TV, Jude has been invited to watch the England cerebral palsy team train at St George's Park, visited the Sky Sports studios and sat in on a press conference with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Jude, an Aston Villa fan, has also interviewed club manager Steve Bruce and his hero Jack Grealish, and has been video blogging on England's World Cup exploits on YouTube at Jude's Journey.

He said: "The main reason I have achieved all of this is because I have believed in myself - if you have the confidence and believe in yourself, you are going to succeed. I have still got a very long way to go with my journey but the main thing is to get as much experience as possible as the media world is a very tough industry to get into and requires a lot of hard work."

Jude's success hasn't been confined to his media ambitions, however - he has also started going for trials with the England cerebral palsy team at West Bromwich Albion. He said: "I always knew that with hard work and determination there would be ways round things for me. Nothing will ever stop me; I want to prove that there are no barriers and I'm equal to everyone else."

Jude told his story at a recent conference at Molineux Stadium organised by the Wolverhampton Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS), which supports children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers, and the parent carer group Voice4Parents.

His family have worked with the IASS for a number of years and manager Lucy Harris said: "Jude's story is incredibly inspiring and shows that, no matter what obstacles we may face, we can still aim high and achieve our dreams."

Councillor Lynne Moran, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "Jude has shown so much self-belief and, with the support of his family, friends and his school, has found another way to fulfil his ambitions. I wish him every success for the future."

Wolverhampton Information, Advice and Support Service provides impartial, confidential information, advice and support about education, health and social care for children, young people and their parents on matters relating to Special Educational Needs and disabilities. It also promotes independence and self-advocacy.

For more information, please visit Wolverhampton Information, Advice and Support Service or Twitter. Alternatively, search for @Wolvesiass on Facebook.

  • released: Friday 13 July, 2018