Emma Chivers sustained a brain injury when a car knocked her off her bike at the age of just eight years old.
In order to raise awareness of the long-term effects and inspire those who have sustained a brain injury injury themselves she has released her story, titled 'I Am Not A Weirdo!', and produced a deeply moving film, 'I'm A Grimsby Girl'.
Speaking about the process of writing her story, Emma said: "I had to write this book because I feel that people just need a little belief and inspiration that it can be done. I hope this is a starting point for many head injured people. Mine was a severe one but I have got to a point of understanding and I hope that this story helps another soul feel that they can do it too.
"I just thought that now was the right time to share my experience, to provide a sense of hope to another parent or carer facing a trauma similar to mine. I wanted to give something back to provide a sense of direction, and belief. Possibilities can arise from anywhere if you can push yourself forward, and never give up.
A head injury never goes away: it just becomes easier to understand, tolerate and deal with.
Here, we speak to Emma about the experience, and gain insights from Sally, who collaborated on the production of the film.
I felt it necessary to do the writing firstly to get it out of my head and secondly the timing seemed appropriate. I thought it also a useful tool to give something back. Headway have helped me throughout my life.
I hope it re-iterates my efforts on doing this and proves that this kind of product is achievable by any other will one of you out there! It can be done you can and will succeed - just follow my lead and just do it!
Well I guess the highlights of the filming were because it was set in familiar surroundings, and it was all completed in good timing. I did not find any part of the day unpleasant as it ran like clockwork. The writing of the poem was taken from the original story that I had written. Sally had used my words and created the poem for her creative writing degree, I may have added and adjusted words but Sally Tissington wrote the poem.
I think my mum and dad took me to a meeting back in Grimsby! I don’t remember if I took to it back then! After getting married I came to Coventry to live and joined Headway again!
Emma and I set out to write a collaborative poem using a technique called Narrative Documentation. You listen to someone talk about their life and whilst they are speaking you pick out and write down their most poetic, vivid sentences. We did this for four sessions of 1 hour, after which I had a whole book of sentences. The final part is to arrange the sentences into a story that will hopefully have great impact.
Emma's speech was never changed, I didn't add a single word, so this means that the poem feels very strongly of her, she can recognise her phrasing and her speech patterns and a real sense of who she is comes across. It was a pleasure to work with Emma.
When they heard what we were doing Andy and Sharon Brookes, two local film makers, offered to make a short film for Emma where she could be speaking her poem. We all had a wonderful afternoon in Coventry where they shot the film.
I began working with Headway Coventry and Warwickshire when we ran an 18 month creative writing and art making experience for the group members. I met Emma at a Headway picnic in the park and she asked me about creative writing, knowing that's what I taught. She had always wanted to write and share her story so we set up our meetings.
I know the film has already moved a lot of people who have seen it. Emma comes across as she is, a determined and successful woman. It is an inspiration. I hope it will encourage other survivors of brain injury to tell their stories.
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