Do you remember my Epic European Disability Roadtrip last year? In October I travelled in my Motability car to my grandfathers homeland of Lithuania, down to Prague, back to the UK, and everywhere inbetween. I overcame personal barriers, met disabled people across Europe and spread a positive message.
On my first leg in Poland I met Boguslaw and Teresa. I learned about life in Poland with a disability: the lack of funding, lack of equipment, lack of care, their basic government disability policy and the negative attitudes of society.
Boguslaw was a national and international speedway champion. After an accident, he uses a wheelchair and is now invisible to his previously adoring public. He and Teresa shared with me their plan to ride around their country by wheelchair to raise awareness and to demand change.
The months rolled by; working in Spain, nurturing Disability Horizons and so on; they really pushed things along. The event was called ‘Dignity and Equality’, began on the 24th June, ran until the 4th August, and covered 2500 kilometres – all by wheelchair! Here’s their facebook page and blog.
The aims of the project were:
• Increase the government funding to disabled people and carers
• Implement full accessibility of public buildings
• Educate society on disability and the need for inclusivity
• Specifically enhance the rehabilitation services following accidents and sports injuries
I love how life works out sometimes. I’ve recently been working with a company called Toda, based in Canada. I was introduced to them because my girlfriends dad, Tadeusz, is their representative in Poland. We are now the representatives in the UK, but more of this for another post. Toda is the main sponsor, and Tadeusz is the main organiser of this amazing project. With him knowing my work and introducing me to the guys before; he asked me to take part.
You all know I’m always up for this kind of thing! So we drove to Poland, rode with the crew and supported their great efforts. Amazingly, Woodstock Poland had taken the guys under their wing and promoted this project nationwide. On our penultimate day of riding (3rd August) we were on stage, just before the Kaiser Chiefs!
I set up a crowd fundraising page to give them a boost of needed cash towards their costs. I also asled any crazier wheelchair users reading to get out to Poland and support them too. For those who couldn’t make it, you can follow it through my eyes, online.
After raising over £800 I’d agreed to join the team for the last 2 days. Here’s the amazing video of how it all went last weekend:
It was fantastic! To ride along the roads to cheers, give nationwide media interviews and support such great people. The long-term outcomes remain to be seen by the government, but I’m proud and privileged to have been a part of this.
You can support the project on my Please Fund page.