A City of Wolverhampton Council worker has spoken about how the support of the authority for the recent Dwarfism National Games made her feel optimistic about her daughter’s future.

Laura Wood, Service Manager for children and young people in care and leaving care, attended the 29th games with her daughter Ella. The council hosted the event in May, with over 180 people take part. 

The Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) is the leading National Disability Sports Organisation providing sport and activity for people with a restricted growth condition.

She said: "I left the event feeling extremely optimistic about Ella's future, with a new community of support and proud to work for a city supporting such an important event.

“My daughter  is 15 months old. Her three brothers, myself and my husband, are all an average height. When I was 30 weeks pregnant, Ella was diagnosed with achondroplasia, the common form of dwarfism. This came as an absolute shock as we had never really considered that this could be a possibility.

“Achondroplasia is a rare genetic condition - one in 25,000 cases - caused by a mutation in the FGFR3 gene, 80% of children with achondroplasia are born to average height parents. In those with the condition, the arms and legs are shorter than their peers, while the torso is typically of normal length. In people affected, the average adult height for a male is 4ft 4in and for a female, 4ft.

“When diagnosed, we found it extremely difficult to find any information or specialist support as the condition is so rare. It has been very traumatic at times and an emotional roller coaster.

“Achondroplasia can cause a lot of different medical issues, for example, sleep apnea, compression of the spine and hearing loss which can be very distressing for the child and parents.

“Other than her health, our main concern as a family was the reaction Ella would get from the community and society as she grows up. We want her to be accepted as her peers would be so that she can grow up to be self assured and confident. Ella will have the same life span and intellect as her peers and will be able to do almost everything they do with a few adaptations. Ella is already a feisty, determined and funny little girl who loves using furniture to cruise around, leaving a trail of destruction in her way!

“When I found out the council were hosting the Dwarfism National Games, I was nervous but keen to attend to see exactly what it was.

“Over the Spring Bank holiday, 186 members participated in the 29th National Games in Wolverhampton. Members of all ages, starting from 1 year old, competed in a variety of sports over the 4 day weekend.

“The weekend was full of games including weightlifting, a variety of track and field events, new age curling, cycling, shooting, junior basketball, balance bike, as well as Under 6 and Under 9 football and hockey. All athletes were ready for another competitive and exciting day and battling it out for the medals.

“We welcomed Connor and Harry, the 2 GB Para Powerlifting coaches, who led a successful powerlifting taster session. The GB coaches were joined by our fantastic Paralympic Powerlifting, including Olivia Broome, Paralympic bronze medallist, Tom Smith, Kim Dean, Lottie McGuiness, and Mark Swan. The latter are all members of the DSAuk. They spoke to the members and their parents about how powerlifting has positively impacted their lives and what they have achieved since starting their powerlifting journey.

“There was lots of great swimming in the pool, and DSAuk Patron and Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds was there to time keep and present the medals at the medal presentation. 

“The sportsman and sportswoman of the year trophies were handed out to end the day. These were decided by a group of trustees and were not given out to the athletes who succeeded or won medals but to those who showed true grit, determination and sportsmanship. 

“The 29th national games came to an end, and for everyone involved, it was the end of a fantastic memorable weekend. Everyone said their goodbyes and made their journeys home for some well needed sleep before heading back to school and working to show off their medals.

“It was great to see some of the younger athlete's confidence grow throughout the weekend and watch friendships blossom.

“The event was truly inspiring, the atmosphere was electric, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Everyone was allowed to compete in all sports within their age range.

“The majority of parents I spoke to said that the event makes a real difference to their child's identity and self esteem as it is a chance to meet other young people with the same condition, make lifelong friendships and have a real sense of achievement.

“I left the event feeling extremely positive about Ella's future, with a new community of support and proud to work for a city supporting such an important event. We will be attending every year to ensure that Ella knows that anything is possible, which could be life changing for her identity and self esteem.

“Events like these make a huge difference to parents and children and I would like to organise a soft play event in the near future. If anyone has a venue that they know of please do contact me by emailing Laura.Wood2@wolverhampton.gov.uk.”