Friday 1st November 2013 saw me and my dad trekking up to London for the JDRF Youth Ambassador day. Well, I was actually attending the day; my dad just strolled around London for a few hours whilst I, along with a few other youth ambassadors and their parents were trained in the fine art of public speaking.
I got up early that morning as the event started at 10 am.
I had a shower, I ate breakfast, all the while whilst dealing with problem blood sugars, and listening to my mum and dad debate on what train my dad and I should get.
In case you were wondering we got the 9:32 train.
That got us into Euston station at about 10:02 if I remember correctly. We got to the station, literally ran up the overly lengthy escalators- seriously my legs were burning. Don't run up the escalators, they're long and not to mention the fact that the steps are each like a meter high. On to more important matters, the extortionate train fares wiped my oyster card of the few pounds it had left and so I could not get through the silly barriers. The station lady or whatever her job title is turned and said "It needs topping up" with the most blank expression and monotonous voice I have ever heard.
Right...so it needs topping up yet, the top up machines are on the OTHER side of the barrier- where is the logic? Thankfully my dad got through before me so he could top it up for me.
"Dad, here take my oyster and top it up over there please?"
"Do you want me to give you the money for it?"
"Nah it's alright I've got it"
"Okay. Just press that button...yeah that one. No wait go back, yeah that one there. Ok press it again. Ok now put the money in...it fell out. Yeah that's enough, alright now hold it on till it beeps again, keep holding it...keep holding it...ok thanks!"
After I finally managed to get out of the station we continued our journey to the University of London union which is where the action day was taking place. My dad and I both got out our phones and we had to find Malet street...ok yeah sure with the help of Google maps we'll find it in no time. Right?
No. No in fact it took us over half an hour to find this place.
We were honestly so confused and Google maps was not even helping the situation one single bit. It basically kept directing us to one place, but by the time we got there the little tracker had somehow moved about three roads to the left and it felt like we were chasing the blue arrow. So my dad asked a foreign man where Malet street was, obviously we didn't know this before we asked him...the man had absolutely no clue so he was hopeless.
I'm sure by now you will all be glad to know that we did eventually find it...45 minutes later. Anyway the main thing was I could still join in and they actually hadn't started doing anything yet. I waved bye to my dad and turned around to face five other teenagers...all type one diabetic...all wanting to make a difference and learn about public speaking. Samuel, Miles, Georgia, Milly and Stephanie were their names.
If I'm honest...none of them really talked. They all knew one another already and so Miles and Sam would go off together during the breaks and Georgia, Milly and Stephanie went off to speak to their parents...so I did my own thing really. Sent a couple of texts to my mum...
"NONE of these people have spoken to me:( they're all with their parents"
"Oh Els, talk to someone. Are you enjoying it at least? x"
"Yeah I'm hatting now:) & Yeah its good xx"
"Good I'm glad chicky. Make the most of it x"
"Thanks mamma xx"
If you follow me on Twitter you would know that the person I was so happy to be chatting to was Annie! Or in twitter terms: @understudypanc
I knew she was going to be there that day and she approached me during the break after I tweeted:
"I THINK I see you" Basically I was too apprehensive to say hello because I thought what if it isn't her? How embarrassing would that be?
I met two of her lovely daughters and had a nice chat over break time and again at lunch time. It felt so strange to be talking to her in person rather than on twitter. I always love putting faces to...usernames. I'm so glad I got to meet Annie and she is so fabulous! as are her daughters. At the end of the day she met my dad and we all had a chat for a few minutes...but it was rainy and cold and everyone had to get off home so we couldn't talk for long but it was nice all the while.
Let me rewind a bit...Ok so we started off introducing ourselves and learning the basics of talking in public. Then we were asked impromptu questions, I think mine were "If you could have invisible powers, what would they be?" and "If you were invisible what would you do?" We were all asked different ones. The point of those questions was for us to let our personalities come through when speaking. The lady said I was very animated and clear, she also said I have a lovely smile because I smile at people when I talk to them- so that was fabulous feedback.
Then we were informed that we had to deliver a 2-3 minute speech at the end of the day on a topic of our choice but the lady said she wanted to know about Type one. She referred to herself as "ignorant" on the matter and so wanted us to teach her something about what we deal with. She said "I assume you're all sufferers of diabetes?" and Sam replied.
"I'm not a sufferer, but yes I do have diabetes"
And she commended him for that, as we all did. Positive attitudes are always great.
My speech was about social media and diabetes and I was discussing my speech with Simon from JDRF before-hand as we all had a chance to go off and practice for a few minutes. And I was telling him about my speech in Parliament and how social media really helped me realise my passion for raising awareness for type one and things.
So I delivered my speech and had virtually no negative feedback...not that any one did anyway. It was all very constructive criticism so I suppose it's wrong to call it negative. She said to me "Try not to say 'you know' because actually, we don't know. You're telling us and educating us. Only you know" The rest of my feedback was just about how she enjoyed it and I that I'm very clear and animated when I speak so, I was happy with that.
All in all I had a really good day and actually by the end we were all talking to one another more and of course, everyone was all really friendly. It was nice to meet some of the staff from JDRF and to meet Annie and her girls, and to meet some other teenagers with type one. It was a really productive, fun day thanks to JDRF and I'm glad I took up the opportunity to go.