Martyn Sibley is chewing up the miles on his extraordinary trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End in his wheelchair. Today he explains how stunts can bring social change.
I’m currently writing my final #whatdisability ‘update’ from Cornwall. We arrive in Lands End on Friday 4th October, for the Britain’s Personal Best weekend. There’ll be a good few more videos coming to you, thanks to the amazing Filipe Roldao, but word-wise; the next post will be, I hope, a very schooled and relieved article.
Whilst the videos have shown the positives of our journey: the scenery, the people and the enjoyment; my articles have driven home the constant planning, logistics and dangers of doing this trip.
I want this post to drive home why exactly I am carrying out such a ‘stunt’.
Having been disabled since birth, I tend to forget about my disability. Over the years I’ve understood the additional daily barriers I face, learned my own solutions and constantly progressed to new challenges. In more recent years I’ve been able to live by a positive example, encouraging other disabled people to dream big, and educate society on our difficulties as disabled people. Also offering advice and solutions along the way with Disability Horizons.
Doing John o Groats to Lands End by wheelchair allowed me to carry out a few things:
– Challenge myself to a whole new level as a human being
– See the whole of the UK with my lovely Kasia
– Understand my own limits, balancing both personal growth with my health, and ultimately achieving something amazing
– Showing disabled people that it’s not only non-disabled people who do crazy stunts
– Outline to disabled people how you can go anywhere with a PA, a hoist, a wheelchair and shower chair
– Keeping a realism to everyday restraints too, but ultimately lifting the lid off of people’s mental limitations
Most importantly of all via the Internet, in the media and in person; I’ve explained to people (mostly those unaware of disability):
a) how inaccessible public buildings, public transport and daily life is when you are in a wheelchair
b) how incorrect and damaging many people’s views of disability are
c) how many disabled people struggle to access work, leisure and even living independently
Ultimately I believe angry doesn’t work with the public. It was required, necessary and successful 20+ years ago. Thankfully! Today however; yes, it can suck to be disabled in 2013. Yes, we should speak out. Yes, we should demand our rights. I just think it’s about educating society and the government cleverly. With investment in infrastructure and attitudes; the world can be equal to disabled people.
By doing things regardless, riding over the haters, achieving within our means, enjoying life and hanging out with like minded dudes; I know social change will happen.
Challenge your Britain’s Personal Best on www.whatsyours.org
Keep up with the latest disability adventures on www.disabilityhorizons.com
See more photos on www.flickr.com/photos/
By Martyn Sibley
Are you setting yourself a personal challenge? We’d love to hear about it! Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving your comments below.