Saturday 22nd May 2010 was the first, of many I hope, sunnier days events (it really was a scorcher too). Approximately 20 people came to the conference facilities at the waterhouse restaurant in Shoreditch, with a common interest – disabled people looking to enhance their social lifes! This is not to say in any stereotypical way that people of the wheelchair persuasion gathered to talk about how they stay in the house 24/7 and so forth, oh no, it was a vibrant group demanding more from life. Its a given being disabled can make things more difficult and these aspects were discussed, but the overall agreement was actually only an individual can make life the way they want it. Its just sometimes we all need a nudge, some inspiration and often lots of information. Within limits we all have as people, anything actually still is possible.
Natasha Wood from the BBC’s one show and Gok Wan’s how to look good naked with a difference, alongside Sophie Morgan from Beyond boundaries and Britains next top disabled model kicked off the event. They talked about their life, achievements, worries and perspective of being disabled and grabbing life. The guys had a chance to ask questions and give their own views. The girls were amazing and so inspirational. It was so cool to have them at the event and i am still pinching myself that they both agreed to come. It gave the perfect platform for sunnier days to launch from.
After a few nibbles and tea/coffee I lead a discussion on social life with I guess using a wheelchair perspective. This whole idea can be looked at for all disabilities but i am using my experience and the guys also were wheelchair users. So i talked about the personalisation agenda. I was assessed under a new social services scheme on Friday that doesn’t look just at the cants and how they provide care. It is an outcomes based approach on what people would love to do more of, or as a one off, in life. My 3 outcomes were –
1) Maintaining my level of care to enable me with this foundation to work and have the active social life i do at present
2) To start swimming once a week or even per fortnight. Since school this has stopped. Since mexico and the swimming i did i realise i miss it. After my terrible winter i think this can only help with my health. Social services are to provide information on this in terms of accessible pools and so forth.
3) I want to go on some sort adventure holiday. More to come.
So in explaining this from my perspective it was great how everyone started to talk about things they want to do. There were PA’s and my great friends from New York who aren’t disabled, and there was a trend. Everyone wanted to do something new and interesting, however trivial to someone else. There can be a situations with a disability that care, transport, money and other factors are more in the way and create the feeling some things are unobtainable. This showed people see things in the way – disabled or not.
We all agreed that sunnier days would meet up for the social aspect for many to meet other like minded people. Also there must be other people further from London so we eventually will encourage other sunnier days meet ups. Furthermore we all individually will look at things we want to do, break the steps into small ones in overcoming any of the potential barriers and eventually achieve that aim. Also so that others can be inspired and/or informed to try new things, i am going to create a website/social network platform to share these sentiments any time of day when the meet ups may not be happening.
I am understandably rather weiry after the organisation, planning, running the day and just hoping everyone enjoyed it. I have never done anything like this and it was a big learning curve. Nonetheless it seemed to be a great success and has the momentum to organically grow and reach other disabled people who want to meet up and try new social activities. I chilled yesterday in Hampstead Heath with friends and relaxed. Today i worked and this evening have been cutting the video and writing the blog. After this i am getting straight on to the next meet up which has been requested as a wheelchairs on ice extravaganza. Any ideas on venues that do this please let me know.
Those who attended or want to be more involved please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be on the email list. Once the website is launched in the next couple of months this can really grow. For now keep an eye on my blog and the group email for further info.