CP Sport collected profiles from people with CP that have participated in physical activity during 2023. The profiles are being used to celebrate and showcase the activities that have been achieved this year.

Name: Kaela Cheffins
Role: Participant
Region: South East
Club/Recreational Group: The Alkham Valley Community Project
Which sports did you participate in during 2023: Para Dressage
What was your biggest achievement in physical activity in 2023: This year I took part in my first ever RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) National Championships competing in Para Dressage after coming 1st place in my Grade 2 class (grades are based on the riders’ level of impairment) at the RDA Regional Qualifier in May. In July, I took part in the National Championships and placed 3rd in the Grade 2 senior class and 2nd place in the Grade 2 Freestyle to music class which was also my first ever freestyle to music class. It was such an incredible experience to compete in the championship and ride in front of a large audience in the Hartpury University International Arena as well the competition being livestreamed over multiple platforms.
How did you benefit from participating in physical activity throughout 2023: Riding horses majorly benefits my muscles and my joints as it allows my tight muscles to relax and move with the movement of the horse. It also strengthens the muscles in my back, core and legs which are also the muscles that I use for walking and other activities in day-to-day life. Cerebral Palsy effects my coordination and muscle isolation so riding helps bring more awareness to my body as the horse responds to the movements I make. An equally important benefit is that riding and working with horses really benefits my mental health as it provides me a sense of freedom as I am unable to walk unaided, but I can ride all by myself. It gives me a much-needed break from the struggles from my everyday life as things are often inaccessible for me, resulting in me having to work so much harder than my able-bodied peers. For me riding a horse feels more natural than walking on my own two feet and it is one of the rare times in my life when I am pain free.  
What would you like to achieve in sport in 2024: In 2024, I would love to qualify for the RDA National Championship at the South East Regional qualifier and take part in the National Championships again with the aim of improving my scores to achieve personal bests on my dressage tests. I would also like progress in my competitive journey and work towards competing at a higher level and become part of team to represent the region or country. I would also like to continue to improve my strength and fitness levels so that I can push myself physically and mentally to be able to achieve my goals.
Which other sports would you like to try in 2024: In 2024 I would like to try more adapted work outs, fitness and strengthening exercises/ activities.
What would you say to other people with CP that are thinking of trying physical activity in 2024: Definitely give it a go! Even if you don’t find something that you enjoy straight away there are lots of different sports and actives for you to try and see which ones you love. You may have Cerebral Palsy; you may need more time to do things and you may have to do them a little bit differently but always remember that you CAN do it and that is all that matters. No matter what anyone says you are strong, believe in yourself and prove them wrong! If you want to play a sport 100% give it a try, its your life no one can tell you how to live it. Don’t let your disability stop you. One of my favourite quotes is “It never gets easier, you just get better”.
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