Loneliness and disengagement from a previously active life can hit hard when someone suffers a life changing accident or is diagnosed with a degenerative condition. Making that first move to research what is available to you and how to get involved can be challenging and scarry. A first step into the unknown on the back of a very difficult change in circumstances.
I’m Graeme Wilson and I work at Yorkshire Care Equipment and I’m able bodied. I spent an inspiring couple of hours over a cappuccino and conversation giving me a fresh insight into a group of people, organisations, a community of friends, working to make outdoor activity and reengagement a whole lot easier and more fun.
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Sportability is a countrywide charity with regional group leaders committed to providing regular sport and activities for people with paralysis. Experience Community is a Yorkshire based not-for-profit. Craig Grimes and his team provide trikes, bikes and active user chairs enabling people with varying degrees of disability to become active users on tracks, trails and dales. Leeds Urban Bike Park is a not-for-profit community bike park providing safety first bike trails and facilities for all ages, skill levels and physical abilities.
I couldn’t miss the fact that these three organisations having found each other are providing something special to the disabled community, the thrill of being in the great outdoors moving at speed under your own effort. How liberating that must feel. The laughs and banter it must generate, the friendships it must form.
That’s enough of that.
My first contact was with Jane McKenzie the area co-ordinator and the energy behind Sportability here in Yorkshire. As someone living with MS Jane benefitted hugely in the early days of her condition from her participation in Sportability activities before deciding to set up a new regional group here in the Yorkshire region. Now Jane and her Sportability mates are outdoors, doing stuff, having a blast. Jane told me what she and her group had planned for 2022. Water skiing anyone, carriage riding? Perhaps quad biking is more your thing. Jane was at pain to express that it’s all about the activity and the friendship. Adding elasticated waistband Lycra pants are great as a hand hold to pull her and her mates on to a quad bike. Leave your disability at the door. Although there’s always time to support each other, no questions asked.
The range of active user chairs, bikes and trikes provided by Experience Community means that almost all conditions resulting in paralysis are catered for. Whether you are a speed merchant or happy with steady as you go the opportunity to travel at your own pace whatever the parameters of you ambition and disability are catered for.
Success for Leeds Urban Bike Park is about providing a free but sustainable outdoor bike facility. And what a great facility. Tracks and trails for all standards, levels of confidence and capability all funded by on site services such as bike hire, coaching and the café. I can vouch for the cappuccinos. Leeds Urban bike Park’s aim is simple. To develop an inclusive, safe and exciting facility, enjoyed by everyone, with or without a bike, young or old, able bodied or disabled.
Sportability and Experience Community will get together again at Leeds Urban Bike Park for more laughs, speed, excitement, spills and a dose of the great outdoors remarkably only a couple of miles from Leeds city centre.
For Yorkshire Care Equipment, a company committed to enhancing lives through mobility including active user wheelchairs, seeing is believing. I’m delighted to say I’ll be joining Jane, Craig and the Leeds Urban team along with colleagues from Yorkshire Care Equipment as we’ll be sponsoring Sportability’s Trikes & Bikes day at Leeds Urban Bike Park on the 8th June. We look forward to reporting on this fun packed day.
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