Like others all across the UK I was spellbound by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and it wasn’t just the sport… it was the electricity in the air, it was the collective community consciousness and for me it was about the big bright light put on disability never before witnessed in the four corners of the UK.
My day-to-day life consists of surmounting hurdles that a non-disabled person would never encounter. Whether crossing the road, accessing public transport or overcoming stereotypes, there are always additional challenges to overcome. So taking up the mantel from last year’s Games I wanted to do something big to help people understand the challenges I and many others face on a daily basis, and to raise money for my favourite charity, Scope.
Today as I announce my role as an ambassador for Britain’s Personal Best, I have set myself the greatest challenge of my life… to pilot my wheelchair every inch of the 970 miles from John o’ Groats to Land’s End. I will begin my journey in September and aim to complete on 5 October in time for the Britain’s Personal Best big weekend 4-6 October.
During the Games the recording of competitors’ ‘personal best’s or ‘PBs’ became commonplace as athletes secured lifetime achievements. The idea behind Britain’s Personal Best is simple; it takes the notion of the ‘Personal Best’ and transitions it from its current association with elite athletic accomplishment and instead invites everyone in the UK to achieve a ‘PB’ as part of a new annual national celebration of personal achievement.
I want to inspire other disabled people to achieve their own personal best and encourage non-disabled people to challenge their own preconceptions of disability and promote integration and inclusion by sharing the experience with my non-disabled girlfriend who has decided to join me by cycling the route alongside me.
With Britain’s Personal Best we are building on how inspired the UK felt after London 2012. It is a call for each and every one of us to dig deep and find something amazing that shows us at our own personal best. Whatever our age, ability or resources. It’s about helping each other and ourselves, taking on a challenge that is intellectual, sporting, artistic, healthy or just plain scary. Personally, I’m excited to challenge myself following in the footsteps of those inspiring Olympians from the Olympic and Paralympic games. It won’t be easy physically, technically and logistically, but that’s par for the course.
I also want to encourage others to challenge their personal best. It doesn’t need to be as crazy as mine; just leave your comfort zone, stretch yourself and have fun! Some people will be raising money for their favourite charities, doing something that they have never achieved before, be it rock climbing, or forming a new business, together or as individuals. The first step, to log on and register at www.whatsyours.org
I care about disability and I care that the big bright light from last years Games doesn’t go out. So this will be my personal best… what’s yours?
Britain’s Personal Best big weekend will take place 4-6 October 2013. To help out:
1. Watch our new promotional video, and share it on your blog and/or Twitter and Facebook, using the #PersonalBest hashtag;
2. Register your own personal best at our website, http://www.
Sponsorship proposals available on request
Generic Press Release
On September 4th 2012 Martyn Sibley is undertaking his toughest challenge yet. He plans to travel across Europe with his adapted hand-controlled car, accessible caravan and his Personal Care Assistants.
Martyn is 28 and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy meaning he relies on an electric wheelchair, 24/7 care and other support functions. Alongside his work with other disabled people, he has travelled a great deal and completed various adventurous activities.
This latest venture takes him to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Poland and reaches Lithuania, where his grandfather came from. Then it’s back through Poland, Germany, Holland and Belgium, before home.
Martyn will share this with his 20,000 strong online community through articles, pictures and videos on his blog, his magazine Disability Horizons and twitter feed. He will discuss the personal challenges, the wheelchair access/barriers, people’s differing attitudes to disability and video interview other disabled people and charities. Alongside this there will be press coverage and fundraising for beneficiaries in each country.
Sibley says his aims are:
– to showcase individual achievement in tough situations
– to paint a true picture of disability (the rough and the smooth)
– to highlight the differences across Europe of having a disability
– to educate society on this subject matter and promote social inclusion for all
To make this project a success the following is needed:
-Finances for fuel, caravan parks and other route costs
– media and PR support
– introductions to people and organisations in the visited countries
Sibley simply states: “I’m just an individual sharing a personal challenge and experience. My hope is that it can be a catalyst for change in many ways. Younger disabled people can see what is possible, society will see disability in a cool light and it will be a lot of fun. The awareness and money raised will provide a platform for others to progress this social cause”.
Martyn Sibley is a blogger, social entrepreneur and disability advocate.
Since starting his blog (martynsibley.com) in July 2009 he has built up a large online presence with disabled people using social media.
He left his job as a fundraiser at the disability charity Scope and since launched online magazine www.disabilityhorizons.com, disability webinars, disability econference and disability ecourses.
Alongside this he has partnered with charities, councils and companies in the disability field around technology strategies.
With a mantra of ‘inspire, inform and change’; Martyn shares his journey, his passion and his vision.
What international trip wouldn’t be complete without a crazy excursion? Whilst my responsibilities lie within my volunteering role and the activities I have outlined to you already, EVS is about many more things too. In my 6 weeks in Aviles I have learnt to get around the city alone, frequented most cafes/bars and enjoyed its beautiful sites. I have also been to the two other main Asturian cities; Oviedo and Gijon. However Asturias boasts many other beautiful places to see, but unfortunately they are not all so accessible. This post will talk you through my challenging trip to the mountains last Sunday.
I knew before I flew here that transport may be an issue to seeing the best sites. So much so that I looked into bringing my car on the boat, but this was too expensive for my program (or me) to afford. Having been here 6 weeks now and having maxed out the bus and trains routes to the beach and other cities, it was time to go into ‘challenge’ mode.
My mentor here is Ruben; a local Spanish guy who looks like a Viking and works on the streets for the Red Cross. He is a top bloke and we have had some interestingly hardcore political chats. Seems we both like revolutions and changing the world. Anyway, Ruben started looking for a van and a ramp to get me mobile. We even visited a local disability organisation to try their ramp and I nearly tipped my chair over in testing this out.
Eventually Ruben settled on the best location we should visit. Its a collective group of people running a sustainable house in the mountains. The idea was we would get the train to ‘Polo de Lena’, the guys there had a van, we had a ramp from another store and the place was high up in the mountains – so it’d be a beautiful view and I would get to meet cool people.
At 10am Filipe, Ruben, Athina, Vinka and I (after my heavy night drinking Jack Daniels) set off. Unfortunately the weather here has been awful for a couple of weeks now. It turns out Asturias is the UK weather-wise, but in Spain. So I put my cape over me and the chair (I look like a giant condom) and off we went. We arrived at Pollo de Lena around 1pm. The 2 girls who arrived in the van were tattooed and pierced to the hills, and I could tell the whole day was going to be different to the norm. On driving up the ramp it became apparent the van wasn’t tall enough for me! So, Filipe lifted me into the front seat. After getting my comfort and balance, he headed back to fold the chair and get it in. I had assumed the driver was Spanish. Then on speaking to me, it turned out she was from Southport in England!! Small world or what…
Once we were loaded we headed up the mountains with vegetable oil powering this old van, and the windscreen steaming up. It was such a shame the rain was falling so hard because the views would have been even more spectacular I am sure. It reminded me of when Chris and I drove to Wales a few years back and nearly hit a stationery sheep up a mountain. It was so green, fertile and the height gave an amazing vantage point of this beautiful Spanish region.
We arrived, got me and the chair out of the van and bumped me up 2 steps into the house. You can see some pictures and read about the project here http://escandaronzon.wordpress.com/. Despite the lack of views and sunshine, I had an amazing time. It was so interesting how the collective formed, the many different people who pass through, their values and their activism against the norm. I cannot imagine myself living their due to accessibility and my inability to eat healthy food, however I totally got their mindsets. They also seemed to enjoy listening to my online activism and my attempts to change the world on disability issues.
I don’t think I will be back there now before I leave, but I hope to one day. I do plan to manage another mountain trip before May 4th. Fingers crossed that this rain will stop and the sun will come out. Either way this was just another amazing life experience to add to my belt! Onwards and upwards 🙂