Connah completed his studies at RNC in 2015.
Connah was part of our national I Can campaign; changing people’s perception of visual impairment and focussing on what our students can do, not what they can’t.
I Can channel my focus
I’m Connah and I’m 19 from Wigan. I am studying NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Sport and Recreation; Instructing Exercise and Fitness.
I was registered as blind when I was about six months old as a result of a condition, Lebers Amarosis, which affects the rods and cones in my retinas.
I went to a mainstream primary school and had classroom support, but once I’d learned the basics of reading and writing it got to a point where I felt as if I wasn’t really learning very much, especially as things weren’t adapted for me. When I was 11 I remember sitting down with my mum and dad, telling them that I wanted a decent education. We looked at specialist schools and spent three years fighting with the local authority over funding. When I was 14 I started at a specialist residential school for those with VI (visual impairment). The teaching was really good; I had previously used Supernova (an accessibility software package) but had never been taught how to use it properly before then.
After two years at specialist school I started to get fed up; I felt like I was being treated like a five year old and when I got to sixth form nothing changed. I suppose I got bored so I would cause trouble, rebel and get into fights. Looking back I know that I was acting up because I was frustrated at being treated like a child so I played up to it. It got worse when I turned 18 because I was an adult but I still had a curfew to be back by 11pm; I hated the restrictions.
Life at RNC
A friend told me about RNC when I was about 17 and said there was a Personal Training course on offer. I really wanted to go but knew I had to stay at school to finish my A Levels.
Now I’m at RNC my course is a real work-based experience, as well as theory classes everything I do is what I would be doing if I were working in a real gym environment. I run the classes, carry out personal training sessions, check the facilities and clean the gym. I’m busy all the time; there are so many practical elements so I know that I’m gaining real experience to help me get into employment after I leave. There are four student-led exercise classes open to the public every week and we all take it turns to run these classes. I’ve had the opportunity to work with different groups, I was even asked to prepare and deliver a ‘boot camp’ style session for some local army reserves in Hereford. I thrive on being challenged and I am at my best when I am working towards achieving a goal.
A lot of staff at RNC are VI so they understand the frustrations I had when I came here and what I go through every day. Paddy and Aaron, my course teachers, are inspirational in that they both have jobs in the fitness industry with the added responsibility of being teachers. They’re so supportive and encouraging; they genuinely want you to do well. RNC is a top place, especially the people. I get on well with everyone – the staff and students are so nice. I think the residential element is the key point to gaining independence. I’m left alone most of the time but I know RSO (Residential Support Officer) assistance is always there if I need it.
Everything I do now is based around training and Judo. I first started Judo when I was at school but I’m training harder and more intensely at RNC. When I was at school no one wanted to train and no one took it seriously. Now I’m part of the RNC Sports Academy it’s amazing to be around people who are really focussed. Most are footballers and goalballers but their dedication to sport is brilliant and it’s definitely great to have my choice of training partners. Being in such a high achieving environment, I have been scouted to be in the GB Judo squad for Tokyo 2020 and it would be amazing to actually make the team – the atmosphere at RNC is one of success and I truly believe that if I continue to work hard I can make it there, my goal is to come back with a medal.
I know there’s a chance I can get a job in the fitness industry, I just need to carry on working hard. I’ve really matured since being here and I’ve been taught the proper ways of doing things so I can handle groups better. I can’t believe how much I’ve grown in confidence since being here. My ultimate goal for life is to get a job in the fitness industry and I channel all my focus towards making it a reality.
Find out what you can achieve at RNC by giving us a call on 01432 376 621 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org