A sport loving youngster who has a mild form of cerebral palsy is looking ahead – to gold medal success in the 2020 Paralympics.
Billy Hodge (8), son of Heather and Richard Hodge of Tarnacre View, Garstang, has already established himself as keen footballer and good all-rounder at St Thomas’s CE School, Garstang, having played for the school soccer team. He is also keen on rugby, golf, discuss, swimming, badminton, horseriding, cricket and rounders!
Billy and his classmates were recently asked by teacher Chloe Bosson to carry out a project on what they wanted to do when they were older.
Unlike his classmates, who wrote about their ambitions, confident Billy, with the help of his sister Anna, 10, made his own version of Channel 4’s “That Paralympic Show” which focuses on paralympic sport.
The charming video has delighted Billy’s school chums as well as his teachers, and is now becoming a hit on internet video site You Tube, from which it has been linked to various global other websites promoting “body positive” attitudes.
The YouTube video has already clocked up around 3,000 hits, as viewers watch plucky Billy outline his hopes for the future – including demonstrating with a globe the possible places where the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics may be held.
The video was also sent to Channel 4 and the “That Paralympic Show” production company Boomerang, at the suggestion of Mrs Bosson, prompting an invitation from the firm to a filming of the show in Manchester next month.
In Manchester, Billy will meet the show’s presenters, former Olympic 400 metres runner Iwan Thomas, wheelchair athlete Ade Adepitan and Rick Edwards, along with the British wheelchair basketball teams and other celebrity guests who will be trying their hand at paralympic sports.
Channel 4 bosses have sent Billy a goody bag and a message from newscaster Jon Snow who said he was “inspired” by the video. Another message of support has come from Canadian snowboarder Tyler Mosher.
Billy suffers from Hemiplegia, a neurological condition that weakens one side of the body (in Billy’s case his left side).
The condition affects up to one child in a 1,000. It is sometimes described as a form of cerebral palsy, and the effects are similar to those of a stroke, though unlike in an adult stroke victim the muscle does not have “memory”.
Heather said: “He still manages extremely well, but his left hand and leg are tighter in tone and need a lot more work – and nagging! – to get them to do what he wants. We’ve played a lot of badminton as a family and he was gutted that it’s not included in the paralympics. He’s also tried horseriding, bodysurfing at the beach, cricket, rounders etc at school – he loves sport and will try them all.”
At school Billy has as support assistant Andrea Russell, who carries out physiotherapy and occupational therapy with him.
He has swimming lessons every week, and is looking forward to swimming with dolphins in Florida while on holiday this summer.
l To watch Billy’s video google “Billy paralympic 2020” (the video turns up on several websites including one on positive body image in the USA, or visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AymAkF9ydY
l Billy and Heather are keen to promote the work of the charity HemiHelp which promotes awareness of the condition. Its website can be viewed at www.hemihelp.org.uk