This is the first of what we hope will be a great way of celebrating amazing customers. Every portrait experience is as different as the family that walks through the door. Some are excited about their session, others have apprehensions that the children won’t be in good form. We got a chance to hear about Amy and her three kids with autism and ADHD and how the world of Ju-Jitsu changed their lives for the better.
Hi Amy! How was your photoshoot with the kids?
When we visited your studio I was worried that the kids would not settle well. All three children have either autism or ADHD and don’t always cope well in new environments. To keep things as normal as possible we attended our normal Ju-Jitsu class that morning to burn off energy!
Once we arrived our photographer was absolutely fantastic. While some of the kids did not want to be photographed, she worked with the child that did and used toys and games to help the other two feel at ease.
Once we arrived our photographer was absolutely fantastic. While some of the kids did not want to be photographed she worked with the child that did and used toys and games to help the other two feel at ease. In between shots the kids wandered through the studio asking questions and touching everything – something they do often which can cause me a lot of stress as not everyone appreciates their curiosity! However the time and patience the photographer had with the kids was second to none.
All together it was a fantastic, stress-free experience which is not what I had expected. The shots taken were amazing considering 2 out of 3 kids were not really interested in having their pictures taken!
That’s great to hear! Tell us more about you.
In 2020 I was a finalist for the UK Coaching Hero Award for my work with the World Ju-Jitsu Federation Ireland. I was engaging children in activities throughout lockdown, designing at-home zoom programmes and a Ju-Jitsu themed at-home camp. I was the only female martial artist in the top 75 and the only martial artist that made it to the top 4!
Congratulations! How did that come about?
I first designed at-home ideas for my scouting group – 7th Dromore Scouts, Scouting Ireland. I ran weekly zoom sessions and WhatsApp groups to keep kids busy and happy throughout a frightening time when many of our kids could not completely understand why their worlds had been turned upside down.
I was supported by the parents in my group and their excellent feedback. I then adapted it for the youth of my Ju-Jitsu Federation. Ju-Jitsu is something I have been involved with for almost 6 years. It has helped my kids with discipline, balance, self esteem and their social skills.
And I believe not only the kids benefited from it?
Before I started training I was a diabetic with 2 autoimmune diseases and as a single parent of 3 kids with special needs, found life draining. Now my diabetes is under control and I haven’t had a flare up of my other illnesses in 3 years.
Ju Jitsu has become a huge part of my life after I joined a year after my son did. It has helped my mental health, self esteem, balance, fitness and weight (to date I’ve lost almost 4 stone)!
I have energy and patience for my kids and our quality of life as a family is 100 times better. A lot of this is to do with the people at Ju Jitsu- it is a community where you can always find help and support.
I was honoured when I was asked to use my background in youth work to help during lockdown and I gained the confidence to complete my coaching qualification. I received so much support from my own coaches and the Head of the World Ju-Jitsu Federation Ireland, sensei David Toney. As a result of the confidence placed in me, I have begun coaching in several clubs and enrolled in some more qualifications to help me work with kids with special needs or challenging behaviours.
How can other parents get involved?
To get started with Ju-Jitsu, there are a list of clubs on their website (www.jujitsuireland.com) with the names and numbers of the head coaches for each area!
The Scout Foundation Northern Ireland office (sfni.org) will be able to point you in the direction of your nearest scout group.
The Peter Thomas Photography website is peterthomasphotography.com