Inspired by her son, Ben, and his experience with dyslexia; teacher and advocate Elaine made the bold decision to do 40 runs before she turns 40.
Elaine said, “I might be struggling for several weeks but Ben and so many other children in the UK will have to struggle with the complexities of dyslexia for their whole lives. Like I said to my son, he struggles everyday; my struggle is for 40 days.”
Elaine believes that there is a huge lack of funding and support for dyslexics at school and in the classroom, so she decided to do something about it. All of the money raised goes to the Dyslexia Trust, a charity who give direct support to children and families worldwide through dyslexia assessments and specialist tuition.
I spoke with Elaine to learn what inspired her to take on this challenge.
Where are you from?
I am from Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk. I have lived here my whole life and have been a teacher here for 16 years.
Do you, or does someone in your family have dyslexia?
Dyslexia runs in our family and 4 members of the family have been diagnosed with dyslexia. My brother David, my nephew Kieran, my niece Sophie, and my beautiful son Ben.
All of them have had to endure the challenges of living with dyslexia and have struggled through education. They have all found school a very difficult time, especially as the current education system lacks a true understanding of dyslexia and the strategies for supporting children with dyslexia. Teachers are not equipped with the correct training and, in turn, school and learning can be very isolating and traumatic. I feel that all members of the family have, at some point, suffered from low self-esteem and the sense of failure as they feel they are ‘stupid,’ when in reality they are intelligent and more than capable of learning, if taught the correct way.
My son, especially, had suffered greatly and it has affected his mental health (when I told him I was emailing you he said ‘I think that’s great, mum, as people need to know how hard it is and we need to get people to be aware’).
However, my brother has gone on to be extremely successful and my niece is doing so well in her GCSE year, but they have both received tutoring and support to manage their dyslexia.
What inspired you to do 40 runs under 40?
Ben was, and still is, my inspiration and drive. I have had to fight the system (and his school) for assessment and a diagnosis, to ensure he had the correct support and strategies put in place to support him. I thought he was dyslexic when he was in Reception but the school refused to assess him as he was ‘too young’. Every year I asked and it took until year 4 to finally get them to assess him. Ben struggles greatly with the condition and it does not just affect his ability to read and write, he struggles with organisation and memory, and more importantly it has really affected his self- esteem and mental health. He is 10 and has already told himself he is a failure and believes that he is un-intelligent, so I decided to do something difficult to gain awareness of the condition and raise money for the Dyslexia Trust.
I am hoping my challenge will fund tutoring for a child with dyslexia, but more importantly will gain awareness so people have a better understanding of dyslexia and, in an ideal world, that the education system, and teachers (like me) are trained to use effective strategies in our classroom to support children.
As a teacher, I want to be able to support children with dyslexia effectively, as I will openly admit I do not feel I know the effective strategies for supporting children with dyslexia. I want to make an effective difference to the children in my class too!
What runs did you do?
I run every day and am committed to running at least a mile a day, however I usually run 1.5 miles or more. I sometimes run up to 3 miles, as my last final run will be at a ‘Park Run’ and that is 5k!
Why do you think it is important to raise awareness and money for the Dyslexia Trust?
It is important to raise money for the Trust as the money raised goes directly to supporting and tutoring children who need support and to develop strategies to manage dyslexia. Early assessment is also so important. I am also hoping I can get some support
What support have people shown encouraging 40 runs under 40?
I have had lots of people sponsor me and have had so many messages, encouraging me and spurring me on. People have been so generous. I have had people run with me, a local business made me a t-shirt to run in (for free), and I have people making cakes and running the stall for me. Most importantly, I have received private messages from people saying what I’m doing is amazing as they have dyslexia, or a family member does. Each message telling me about their individual struggles is what drives me forward. Then there are you guys at Nessy, your offer of matching whatever I raised was incredible and to offer free Dyslexia Training was the icing on the cake (10 teachers at work are doing the course- it will have such an impact!) Thanks to Tiffany for her continuous support too.
What were your plans for your final run and how much did you raise?
On Saturday 19th October I ran 5k at the Gorleston ‘Park run’, dressed in my green Dyslexia Trust t-shirt and a green tutu. Ben and Sophie ran part of it with me. I also had some teachers and friends running with me to support me (all dressed in green). At the finish line my sister and daughter ran a ‘GO Green’ cake sale and got people involved with the ‘Green Tongue’ challenge. That night was my 40th birthday party #40 before I am 40. In total I raised £1,500!
You can donate to the Dyslexia Trust too! Click here to donate online