“I’m always at a club somewhere!” says Elan Mon Gilford as she starts listing her volunteering commitments which take in lunchtime and after school sessions as well as weekends. Best described as a bundle of energy, it is no surprise that Elan has already given up over 400 hours of her time to coach pupils in schools and communities across Anglesey, in everything from netball and athletics to rugby.
Explaining how she caught the volunteering bug three years ago, Elan says:
“I’ve always loved sport but it was a huge step for me to start volunteering. I attended some courses and found that it was a real boost for my self-confidence. Now it never even feels like volunteering, I’m just doing something I enjoy.”
Deaf since the age of three, Elan is fully dependent on lip reading and the use of two hearing aids. Yet despite the challenges she faces in daily life, she doesn’t let anything stand in her way and delivers sessions for people of all ages and abilities:
“I can demonstrate that disability is not a problem and that there is always a way round it. It is really powerful to be able to show that to others.”
Through her ambassadorial roles for Youth Sports Trust and Sport Wales’ Young Ambassador National Steering Group, Elan is able to inspire young people across the country. She has gained numerous coaching qualifications and also works with Disability Sport Wales to help people to get fit, healthy and happy, regardless of their disability.
Fizzing with enthusiasm, Elan talks about what volunteering means to her:
“It is very rewarding to watch children’s health and skills improve on a weekly basis. And you can’t beat seeing the smiles on their faces when they achieve something new. I’ve had lots of valuable experiences over the past three years, it has been amazing! Anyone thinking about volunteering should find a local club, get on a course and grab every opportunity with both hands.”
Elan has a real zest for life and learning. In the future she hopes to take a degree in Physical Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University and sums up her what keeps her ambitions fired:
“Children in Wales need greater opportunities to get involved with sport. I want to help children enjoy positive sporting experiences.”