One of my PA's has been sharing a blog with me that she has recently started following. It is called Gin & Lemonade and is written by Lorna - a young Mum with CP. Lorna writes about a whole host of topics but one that has struck a chord with me recently is access. Lorna does not mind being in a wheelchair. What she minds is how poor access is. The story of the teacher carrying a student in his backpack for a field trip has gone viral. Lorna feels that we seemed to have missed the point in praising the teacher when we should be finding and highlighting wheelchair accessible nature trails. The young person involved is fine about the story going viral but Lorna makes the more serious point that disabled people are more than props for someone’s good deeds.
Like Lorna I have my wheels. My wheels are not the problem. My CP is not the problem. My issues are inaccessible buildings and people not tuning in to what accessible means. I am disabled by my environment.
From Service Stations which I can’t get my wheels into could you not move stuff so I can get my wheels in? Sometimes it really is that simple.
Or how about before you advertise your Farmhouse as fully accessible how about trying it out with lots of disabled people to ensure that it really meets our needs. We had done our research on a property to try this year for our holiday but the layout was tricky at best and unsafe at worst with me needing to go out onto a hairpin bend on the road to access the garden and raised pool. The floodlit photo on the website did not show the lip!
I should have realised that things were not going to be easy from the get go for this trip. Mum could not find her Passport on the Saturday with us due to leave in the early hours of the morning on Monday. By Sunday afternoon having turned the house upside down it was clear that this Passport was planning on staying hidden and it was going to be too difficult to postpone given the way that my PA's were all booked up to be flying in and out over the next 3 weeks.
So I waved Mum goodbye and set off with some crazy weather for company all the way down to my favourite hotel and my preferred room which had been remodeled since my last stay and yes, you guessed it it was no longer accessible. Delicious food helped to make up for the disappointment.
We then moved over to the Farmhouse only to find that it was not going to be suitable so immediately started to try and find what else might be available. All in all that first week was spent packing and repacking and a steady stream of conversations and negotiations in an attempt to salvage the trip.
So a week after I got to Spain, Mum arrived and we were back at the hotel for a week. All in all that first week was not very restful so the holiday only really got started once Mum arrived. At the end of that week we moved again to an apartment in the Square. Best fit given the circumstances.
I got back at the end of September and have eased myself back into training from home having made the decision not to trek up to Lee Valley twice a week. I have my new gym all set up at home and my PT is now coming across and with the days drawing in it feels like a good way to be heading into the Winter months.
In addition to the gym, great progress has been made on the murals in my bedroom. It was hard work getting the brief together but I have got exactly what I wanted. The only thing is having seen how great it looks has inspired me and I want more so that my whole bedroom is filled with Disney and Harry Potter characters. I also have my Sensory Room to look forward to being installed at the end of November. Feels like it has been a long time coming but I appreciate that it was important to get the plans right. I know that it is going to provide me with the most important chill out space where I can have some privacy at last.
It was my Birthday this week and I started my celebrations with a surprise visit to Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens where one of my team has gone to become a Wine Ambassador. I thoroughly enjoyed a Cheese and Wine pairing experience followed by a bottle of bubbles that Emma opened with a Sabre at the table! This was followed by a visit to the Doll’s House Exhibition which was impressive. I had taken my camera as I’m doing a Photography course at College but drizzly weather meant we spent only a little time in the garden.
On the Sunday I had a Surprise Party. My PA's had worked to turn the outside area into a Big Top and we had a singalong to The Greatest Showman. My afternoon began with a wonderful meal with my family but I made sure to save room for some Tapas during the film!
Monday was the actual day and I opened cards and presents first thing before heading up to London for a bit of retail therapy and a family meal.
Now having started this blog by saying how disappointing access often is I want to end it by telling you how pleasantly surprised I have been by the College experience. I am delighted to report that the faculty have already worked with a quadriplegic student and currently have a student with access requirements. As a result the Risk Assessments and Emergency Evacuation procedures are all in place and the College have even offered to train my PA's on the EvacuChair!
In fact I have been so inspired that I went to an Open Day at the College to see what options might be available for Art. Watch this space for what I find.