Ellie is 16 and has autism, which impacts on how she experiences the world and communicates with people. She attends a specialist autism sixth form college in Southport.
Ellie has always enjoyed being outdoors and loves being active so her dad and I decided to give her the opportunity to take part in Southport parkrun. At first we would just walk round with her because the crowds made her uncomfortable and she was being asked to do something she was unfamiliar with. After a few weeks however she understood the route and would try to run ahead of us, so we would end up sprinting and then stopping.
Ellie’s sister Emma came and did it with us for a few weeks so she was not just with her parents (it’s not cool when you are 16!) and eventually we decided if she wants to do it alone then we should let her. She does very little independently and this would be a huge step for her, and hugely terrifying for us I can assure you!
The fact that the Southport parkrun course is multiple laps meant that she was easy to spot, so we let her go and she absolutely loved it. Now she’s the first person awake in our house every parkrunday, dressed head to toe in pink and raring to go. She usually runs the first lap hooting for joy and then walks the rest. Some days she races, some days she walks, and every day she enjoys it. She listens to her headphones as she runs which takes away some of the external stimulus that are overwhelming for her.
Back in June at the parkrun/NHS70 event, Ellie took part with the Southport Intensive Care Unit and loved being part of our team and getting her photo taken with us at the end.
We are immensely proud of Ellie, and also thankful to the amazing volunteers who support her, and everyone at Southport parkrun who just accept that it’s Ellie running past singing at the top of her voice!
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