Bendrigg Trust Weekend with Strongbones Children’s Charitable Trust – May 2019
I have written a blog post before about Bendrigg Trust, all about the bedrooms, facilities and access, this year, I want to tell you about the activities I have challenged myself to do over this weekend.
Last time I went to Bendrigg I went canoeing, zip wiring and outdoor caving, we also toasted marshmallows on an open fire pit, went extreme swinging on a sensory swing and enjoyed social time at the night time disco.
This year, 2019, I have achieved so much more; I have shocked myself at what I CAN and WILL do.
On Friday, we made sensory space blankets by sticking reflective materials and sparkly stickers to a large space blanket. It was really fun to see everyone’s ideas coming to life, in the evening we went outside around the open fire pit and toasted marshmallows. I had lots of fun meeting new families and getting to know them with lots of laughs before bed.
On Saturday, I did something very different that many would think is impossible for wheelchair users to do. I abseiled down an 80 foot quarry. This was an amazing experience that I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to do again. Transport took us to a quarry and the staff unloaded all the equipment we would need, I was transferred into a special chair that would assist me to do the abseil, it had a big bicycle wheel at the front and then two other wheels at the back. I had lots of safety equipment on so I wasn’t too worried about what was about to happen. We walked along a path past the long grass and bluebells until we reached the exact spot where I was to go off the top. I had two people, Jack and Jenny who helped me going down the quarry and Vic was at the top guiding my rope and keeping me secure. I was really nervous when we went over the ledge, my wheelchair was rocking and wobbling around and it was very high. Jack and Jenny kept reassuring me and helping me to steady the chair and continue down. The quarry wall was not flat or even, it was bumpy with ledges that my wheels would get stuck on or slide sideways, I stayed calm, talked to my dad who was stood at the top of rock and my mum who was waiting for me at the bottom. Several times on the way down, my position had to be slightly adjusted to the left, this meant Jack and Jenny had to move the chair sideways on the rock face to prevent me from slipping. At one point, there was quite a big ledge that made my chair tip to the right, luckily for me, Jenny was there to support and push me back up in line with the quarry wall. When I got to the bottom I was relieved (so was my mum) but I really enjoyed the thrill of abseiling. I feel that I have broken down a huge barrier by completing this abseil, I never thought I could achieve anything like this so I am really proud of myself for doing it.
Also on Saturday I went on an accessible bicycle. This was so much fun, the bike I went on had a ramp that I was pushed onto in my wheelchair, then my dad jumped on the seat behind me and peddled around a track. The bike was quite wide and kept going off the path so it was a bit tricky for dad but I had a great time. They had lots of different bikes for people with different abilities, they had ones that you peddled with your hands, ones that you only use your feet, some with 4 wheels and some with 3. There was so many different kind of bikes, everyone would have been able to have a ride.
The last activity I did on Saturday was archery, yet again this is another one of those activities that people would think is impossible for me to join in on. I had help from one of the Bendrigg staff and my dad to set me up on a bow, they adjusted it so I was able to line up the arrow and let it go by myself. This was brilliant, I had a target board in front of me that I was aiming at and alongside my friends and family, I was able to fully participate in this activity.
Saturday night, back at Bendrigg, we played lots of games with extremely oversized tennis rackets, large parachutes and balls, music, dancing and loads of fun. I was pretty exhausted from a busy day of outdoor activities and laughter, I went to bed and near enough straight away, I was fast asleep.
When we woke up Sunday, the weather was rather wet and dull, this didn’t stop us. We headed outside and learnt all about bush crafts. I used a wooden mallet to chop up fire wood that we then used inside a large teepee to boil a pot of water to make a drink. I learnt how to use materials such as lint and batteries to make a spark to start a fire in the woodland. With a little help from the staff, I was able to do this by myself with a big peg to hold the lint so my hands wouldn’t get burnt.
After we had completed all the activities, I was presented with a certificate, signed by all the Bendrigg staff. To end the most amazing weekend, we toasted marshmallows in the teepee and enjoyed each other’s company.
Whilst I was busy being assisted off the top of a quarry wall, bike riding, doing archery and building fires, others were climbing walls, zip lining, canoeing, extreme swinging, indoor caving and chilling in a sensory room. I have had the most inspirational weekend, I’ve learnt that nothing is impossible, you just have to find a different way to get to where you want to be. I feel thankful to have been given the opportunity to prove what I can do and break down those barriers around disability, accessibility and social isolation, where a person in a wheelchair with a physical disability can do exactly the same as their siblings and parents.
64 individuals attended Bendrigg Trust this year, some of which I have never met or spoken to before, but I have built the most amazing friendships with these people and I cannot wait for our paths to meet again.
Thank you to Bendrigg Trust for accommodating Strongbones families and making every activity accessible.
Thank you to Strongbones Children’s Charitable Trust for giving families like mine the chance to meet new families and build support networks.
And lastly, thank you to Tibra for funding this weekend and supporting Strongbones to support us.
I want to finish this blog by quoting something I’ve read before online –
Nothing is ‘impossible’, the word itself says “I’m possible”.
Love Myles xxx