Year 9 student uses national publicity to spread positivity

Rhys, 9W, has used his experience of being targeted with discrimination to spread his message of positivity: Be Yourself. 

Rhys, who has played football for Feltham Bees and supported Fulham FC since he was an infant, posted a clip of himself in action as goalkeeper in June 2021. The clip was widely shared and Rhys, who has quadraplegic cerebral palsy, was subjected to abusive messages. 

 I still remember the exact date of that incident because it made me feel like I couldn’t play football anymore,” said Rhys.

Rhys’ social media account was closed down because of the abuse it was attracting and at this point Rhys and his family knew they had to take action and spread a positive message to cancel out the negativity. 

Rhys was contacted by Scope, the charity supporting equality for disabled people, as well as footballers from Arsenal, Everton and his beloved Fulham. In September 2021 he had the opportunity to play football at Wembley with members of the England Cerebral Palsy team, bagged himself tickets to watch England play Hungary on 12th October 2021 (although he turned down the offer to watch the match from a box as he prefers the terraces), has been featured on BBC News and ITV News, and has even been added to the Fulham website as part of their team line up. 

Through all of this, Rhys has been determined to spread his message that everyone deserves respect. He has created his own website which includes branded merchandise focusing on #BU for Be Yourself. He has also raised nearly £20K for Scope (click here to donate) and his merchandise sales go towards supporting the charity. 

Rhys epitomises the values of Ruislip High School,” said Mr Davies, Headteacher. “I know I speak for all staff when I say how proud I am of his determination to use the publicity he has received to spread positivity and I know that his hard work will ensure that his message of equity and self-acceptance will encourage everyone to ‘Be Yourself’.”