I Can channel my focus – Connah’s story
For 19 year old Connah Anders from Wigan, growing up has not always been easy. He has a visual impairment which left him struggling to achieve and to express himself at school. Now studying at The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), Connah is a dedicated student and is the new face of the College’s national ‘I Can’ campaign.
As a student of Sport and Recreation NVQ Level 2 Instructing Exercise and Fitness, Connah has channelled his energies into creating a career for himself. He feels at home in the gym environment, studying a practical course, running classes, carrying out personal training sessions, checking the facilities and even cleaning the gym.
His prior frustrations of not being challenged in the right way in both mainstream and specialist schools have ended since attending RNC. “Looking back, I know 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 had the same curfews and restrictions as before.”
“I was happy to be asked to be a part of the campaign,” said Connah. “The whole idea of it is really good in trying to promote different people’s experiences. A member of staff was one of my case studies for my course, and so I wanted to give something back to the College as a thank you and I am very proud that I have.”
Having understanding staff has helped Connah to grow and develop at RNC. Both of his course tutors have visual impairments, which provides Connah with a feeling of empathy and support, as well as being inspirations to him. Connah is part of the College’s Sports Academy, the first for people with a visual impairment in the UK. He practices his judo and has designated time for his own training on his timetable.
“I first started judo when I was at school but I’m training harder and more intensely at RNC. Before, no one took it seriously, but now I’m part of the Sports Academy it’s amazing to be around people who are really focussed,” Connah enthused. “I have been scouted for the GB Judo squad for Tokyo 2020 and it would be amazing to make the team. The atmosphere at RNC is one of success.”
Connah chose his blue judo competition uniform for the campaign photo shoot. His pride in his brown belt is reflected in his stance, which shows power, strength and focus; the ‘superman pose’ as his gym friends have nicknamed it.
Connah also got the filming bug whilst made his campaign video. “It was hard to tell the video camera was there. I wasn’t nervous, I’m quite a relaxed person and we didn’t want the film to look faked or set up; I feel it maintains its authenticity and am happy with that.”
As much as Connah would like to win a medal in the Paralympics in 2020, his ultimate goal for life is to get a job in the fitness industry. “I’ve really matured since being here and have been taught the proper way to do things. I can channel my focus towards making my dreams a reality.”
Article written by Anika Backhouse, PR, Publications & Outreach Officer at RNC