18 February 2002

Museum of Film and Photography

When I enrolled at Stockton Sixth Form, as I have previously mentioned I studied A level Art which I passed, I also studied Media Studies at GCSE and I really enjoyed it. The course involved analysing different films, having debates on some of the news in the papers and many other media formats. During the course we all went to the National Museum of Film and Photography in Bradford.

Part of the National Museum of Science and Industry, it is now one of the most popular museums in the UK outside London, with 615,431 visiting in 2005. Entrance to the museum is free (with exception to the IMAX screen and some specialist exhibitions which do charge), allowing anyone from the public to examine the numerous historic artefacts of media history on display.

There are seven permanent exhibitions:

  • Kodak Gallery - Covering the rise of Photography from the 1840s until the present day.
  • Experience TV - There are over 200 objects from the Museums' collections on display, and plenty of hands-on interactive displays for visitors to have fun with on Television Productions.
  • TV Heaven - An opportunity for visitors to select from a catalogue of over 1000 television programmes.
  • Magic Factory - The science behind Television.
  • Animation - The History of Animation, this area also has a permanent "Animator in Residence" who is involved in the museum's workshops. Profiles Gallery & IMAX Projector Box - Showcasing the Museums' film collection.
  • Advertising - Opens in early 2007. Traces the history of advertising and its effects upon society.

The museum's collection contains over three million items of historical, cultural, and social value, including what are considered three 'key firsts' – the first photographic negative, the earliest television footage, the world's first example of moving pictures (Louis Le Prince's 1888 film of Leeds Bridge). It also contains the original toys from the BBC series Playschool – the first programme to appear on BBC2. The museum's collections are fully accessible to the public through its Insight study centre.

The museum incorporates what was the first permanent UK installation of an IMAX cinema (with a second screen opening in the UK some fifteen years later). Opened in 1983 as part of the Bradford Film Festival with the projector visible from a darkened viewing booth of the 4th floor of the museum, this screen runs IMAX presentations seven days a week, with showings including IMAX-rendered prints of commercial blockbusters, including Apollo 13, The Lion King, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Batman Begins. In 1999, IMAX upgraded the system and began releasing IMAX 3D presentations, including Magnificent Desolation 3D: Walking On The Moon, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks, and Sharks 3D, presented by oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau.

The museum also incorporates the Pictureville Cinema - opened in 1992 and described by David Puttnam as 'the best cinema in Britain', Pictureville Cinema screens everything from 70mm to video; from Hollywood to Bollywood; from silent’s to digital sound, with certifications in presentation including THX in sound and picture and the Dolby EX system. This cinema is also one of only three public cinemas in the world permanently equipped to display original 3-strip 35mm Cinerama prints. It is the only permanent, regularly programmed Cinerama installation in the world and a magnet for enthusiasts, worldwide.

The museum hosts three annual film festivals a year: the Bradford Film Festival (held in March), Bite the Mango (in September) and the Bradford Animation Festival (in November). These attract many international speakers and show new and classic works from around the world.

Stockton Sixth Form

After I left school I did not know what I wanted to do but one thing I did do was go to Sixth Form College. I found this difficult again it took me ages before I made any friends, I found that the students were a bit scared to talk to me because I was in a wheelchair although When I started walking around using my crutches people started to chat to me as I suppose I was on the same level as them.

After the initial barrier so to speak had been dropped and the students were aware of my disability it was not a problem and we got on great. While I was at college I studied more GCSE's and A level's which I enjoyed and I passed my Fine Art & Design A Level. As part of my Art course we went to Barnard Castle on a painting summer school for 3 days and I really enjoyed it luckily the weather was ok so managed to get a few paintings done.

I also passed my driving test. Although during my A levels I began having problems with my hip and needed another operation on the other hip this time. I sat one of my A levels at home and the examiner came to my house because of the problems I had been having. I managed to do my exam although I didn't pass it. I then went in hospital where they re built and reshaped my hip and I spent 3 months on traction which was boring all I wanted to do was go home.

After spending time recovering I was on the go again I wanted to go to work so I began a training course in Business Admin with ICI and then I had a work placement with my local Jobcentre which gave me more incentive too go to work so I started applying for jobs and yes I had the knock backs which were disappointing but I took it on the chin and just tried again and again. Yes you got it I finally got offered a job with the Local Authority and I am still there today having moved through various departments.

Missed the school production

This memory I remember as if it was yesterday, it was just as we had moved to Bishopsgrth School and we decided to put on one of our major productions for the staff and pupils to help us settle in. We planned and rehearsed this for a long time and I had got all my words of perfect and was all ready to present it to the school on the first week we were there. Although to my major disappointment I woke up on the Sunday morning and I was covered in chicken pox from head toe and I missed the whole production I was so upset and I felt really off, I couldn't believe it I kept thinking no its just a rash and it will be gone by in the morning but no I ended up being off school for a week or so and I felt that I had let everyone down when I returned, but it was one of those things I suppose and what made it worse for me it was the last ever production we did.

Comprehensive mainstream school

When I was 11 I started my local. The School had a Special Needs Building incorporated within the main school which allowed us to integrate with the mainstream lessons and still have access to Physiotherapy and Hydrotherapy and any special lessons. I slowly was integrated into the mainstream for all my lessons and only went back for my weekly physio.

I found it strange at first just because of the amount of students in the school as I had only been used to small class sizes etc. I studied for my GCSE's although I didn’t pass them all with high grades I passed them all the same. In the early days I don’t know who was more nervous the students because they weren’t used to disabled students in there school, or me because I wasn’t used to a mainstream school. This soon passed and it was just the norm and we/I was accepted as being part of the school.

One of my favourite lessons was PE and I remember getting assessed by a wheelchair therapist for a sports wheelchair one with a low back and no arm rests so that it was easy to use twists and turns etc. I loved that chair because I was able to go really fast in it which was great when we played wheelchair basket ball. I also spent time on the trampoline with my Physio bouncing around it was surprising how easy it was to move.

Riding for the Disabled

Once a week instead of having my physio in the unit, a group of us were taken by our Physio to A Riding for the Disabled Centre in the Eston Hills. It was fantastic to work with the horses and best of all it was great physio without us realising it. I had help from my Physio to climb the mounting blocks and then helped to sit on the horse. The first time I did this it took me a while because my hips were tight, but after a while I was able to relax and away I went. To start off I had one of our helpers with me walking alongside me just in case there was a problem.

We would walk around the centre and then once I had my balance with went into a trot. To my surprise I had been chosen to go to a riding event in Richmond and to go forward and receive a medal from Princess Anne, The Princess Royal. As you can imagine I was really excited to be going and nervous at the same time. I borrowed all the riding gear from friends and family and off we went with my whole family off to Richmond, it was a fantastic day and to meet Princess Anne was a first for me, as I had never met any Royalty before.

Cerebral Palsy

There are different types of Cerebral Palsy and they are:

Spastic Diplegia This type of cp primarily affects the legs.Hemiplegia This is a form of cerebral palsy that affects one arm and leg on the same side of the body

Double Hemiplegia This is used to describe people who have a weakness in all four limbs, with more involvement on one side of the body than the other.Quadriplegiathis is a form of cp that affects all limbs.

Athetoid This type of CP is characterised by tremors, unsteadiness, lack of coordination, and constant movement. People with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy often have speech difficulties as well.Ataxicthis type of CP is the least common form of cerebral palsy. Ataxia means having a lack of balance. People with ataxic CP have a disturbed sense of balance and depth perception. They usually have low muscle tone, a staggering walk and unsteady hands.I have Spastic Diplegia, which means I have tight muscles and this can make it difficult at times to move about. I take muscle relaxants daily to help reduce the high tone allowing me to move a little easier. I walk with the help of a frame and I use a wheelchair.

Spastic diplegia refers to a type of cerebral palsy that is a neuromuscular condition of hypertonia and spasticity in the muscles of the lower extremities, usually those of the legs, hips and pelvis. It results from brain damage at birth that prevents proper development of the pyramidal tract, meaning that certain nerve receptors in the spine are in turn unable to properly absorb the gamma amino butyric acid which would otherwise properly regulate tone in the affected areas.

Without GABA, affected nerves perpetually fire the message for their corresponding muscles to contract and tighten up. Doctor William John Little's first recorded encounter with cerebral palsy is reported to have been among paediatric patients who displayed signs of spastic diplegia. Above the hips, persons with spastic diplegia typically retain normal or near-normal muscle tone and range of motion, though some lesser spasticity may also affect the upper body, such as the trunk and arms, depending on the severity of the condition in the individual; additionally, because the leg tightness often leads to instability in ambulation, some extra muscle tension usually develops in the upper body, shoulders, and arms regardless of the fact that the upper body is not directly affected by the condition. Spasticity in the legs is rarely so great as to totally prevent ambulation; i.e., most people with spastic diplegia can walk. However, spastic diplegia does result in the signature "scissor gait" that some able-bodied people might tend to confuse with the effects of drunkenness.Spastic diplegia typically results from damage to the motor cortex or corticospinal tract sustained before, during, or shortly after birth. This damage is usually caused by asphyxia, hypoxia of the brain, premature birth, birth trauma, haematoma in the brain, or the presence of certain maternal infections during pregnancy. Genetic susceptibility may also play a part. Known post-birth causes of spastic diplegia may include exposure to toxins, traumatic brain injury, encephalitis, meningitis, other brain infections, and drowning or suffocation.

Major treatments for spastic diplegia include:baclofen (and its derivatives), a gamma amino butyric acid substitute injected into the spine or administered via an intrathecal pump; phenol, injected selectively into the over-firing nerves in the legs to reduce spasticity in their corresponding muscles; botox, injected directly into the spastic muscles; orthopaedic surgery to release the spastic muscles from their hypertonic state (these results are usually temporary because of the source of the spasticity being in the nerves, not in the muscles); Rhizotomy, a neurosurgery directly targeting and eliminating (cutting) the over-firing nerve rootlets and leaving the properly-firing ones intact. The term "spastic" describes the attribute of spasticity in spastic cerebral palsy, but has since been used extensively as a general insult to disabled people and/or as an insult to able-bodied people when they seem overly anxious or unskilled in sports (spazz). In 1952 a UK charity called The Spastics Society was formed; the charity changed its name to Scope in 1994.

So my story starts - my first bike

Getting your first bike is an exciting thing for all children, and it was nothing different for me. I can't remember exactly how old I was but I remember it as a three wheel trike red and blue. We went to Middlesbrough General to get my assessment to see whether or not I would be able to ride it. I had to have special rollers take base put on the pedals so that my feet could be fastened to the pedals, because I couldn't keep my feet on the pedals. I can't remember much about the assessment but I do remember that my bike was ready for Christmas and on Christmas Day there it was with a label saying from Santa and I couldn't wait to get on it and try it out so the first weekend in the new year Mum helped me onto it strapped me on and I was off free as a bird, I was in charge and I could go my own as long as I didn't go near any kerbs at first because I needed help with that. I had this bike for a few years and then as I grew I went back for another assessment and this time I got a red and white one with a bigger seat.

This one was even better than my first one and I went all over on it and also with friends and family. The only problem I had was that I couldn't do a full revolution with my legs because of the problems I had with my knees at the time before I had had the operation on them. I remember one particular day Mum and I walked round to my granddad’s which was a long ride for me so I was quite tired when we got there. Anyway Granddad came out to inspect my new bike and thought it was great. He was always coming up with ideas to try and help me get around and I wanted to show off to him how good I was on this new bike.

He stood and watched me and when I came back to him, he said hang on I have had a idea to help you try and get your leg all the way round, he went off to the garage and came back with some string/rope and he fastened it through the rollers take pedal and around my foot. Then as I pedalled to where I could he then pulled the rope the rest of the way and my leg went all the way round. Ok it wasn't the solution but it worked at the time. After I had had my knee operations I was able to pedal fully and it was great because I was able to go a little faster and it really helped to build my muscles.

Life changing experiences

Welcome to Living life to the full, this is my life changing experiences of living with cerebral palsy here you will read how things have changed for me for the better I hope it will inspire people out there to realise that we can all reach our dreams.

Well where do I start at the beginning is probably the best place to start. I was born in 1974 with Cerebral Palsy which is a lack of oxygen although it was not diagnosed straight away it took a few months. After a few months I had to have a operation on my hip as it kept dislocating so I spent a long time in frog plasters and my parents were unable to take me home for quite a while because I was premature and only weighed 3lbs and I could not go home till I was 5lbs. What is Cerebral Palsy you maybe thinking? Well let me see if I can explain a bit about it for those who don't know. Cerebral Palsy is not an illness and or a disease it is a physical condition that effects people's movement and it can affect people differently. If someone has this disability it means that part of their brain is not working properly or has not developed. This will have happened before they were born, around the time of birth or in early childhood. The affected area of the brain is usually one of the parts which control the muscles and certain body movements. In some people, cerebral palsy is barely noticeable. Others will be more severely affected.