Premier Disability Week
Premier Radio held a 'Disability Week' in the first week of September 2013, coinciding with the Special Olympics event in Bath and the anniversary of the Paralympics. Follow this link to visit their website, which gives a list of their offerings.
Several of the programmes involve our friends, partner organisations, and our chair of trustees, Dr. Mike Townsend, as well as recordings from the 'Enabling Church' events, plus a whole range more. Take a look, and please let us know what their stories get you thinking about!
Helping hands for Wheels for the World?
We're looking for volunteer helpers with the strength and stamina to spend a few hours loading a container of wheelchairs/mobility aids three times each year.
The loading takes place at our 'Wheels' warehouse on the Fairfax Industrial Estate, Aldershot. If you're interested in helping,
please contact – Reninca: 01372 737 044, firstname.lastname@example.org
There may also be other opportunities to help at the Aldershot site - please do contact Reninca if you'd like to get involved!
"Walk a mile in my shoes"
Carla and Sarah are two first year students at Queen’s University Belfast, both living at Derryvolgie Halls (part of the Presbyterian Chaplaincy) and enjoying university life. Carla has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a muscular condition that causes easy dislocation of her major joints. This and other minor physiological problems mean that Carla uses a wheelchair most of the time.
The two girls struck a close friendship out of mutual respect and a common Christian faith. As Sarah spent time with Carla she saw the difficulties Carla had to overcome just to achieve the ordinary, and felt humbled by her friend’s resilience, optimism and determination. Even so, Sarah thought she had a good insight into difficulties faced by wheelchair users until she experienced them herself.
Carla had been taken to hospital and upon leaving found that both her wheelchairs (electric and manual) were still at the Student Union. Both girls agreed to take one chair each back to their halls of residence. Carla set off in the electric, while Sarah pushed the manual chair, but they decided it would be a challenge for Sarah to try out life as a wheelchair user! She quickly discovered that life using the chair was very different from life pushing a chair; high kerbs were difficult to overcome without assistance, pavement camber pulled her towards traffic and the ubiquitous cars parked on pavements were regular obstacles. Sarah saw Carla’s life in a new light.
As they chatted about this, they decided they would extend that challenge and see if Sarah could spend 24 hours as a wheelchair user without using her legs at all, to raise some sponsorship for Wheels for the World. Sarah completed her 24 hour challenge and between them the girls raised over £900!
Through the Roof’s work raises awareness of barriers to access, and the ways in which they can be removed, both physically and through understanding. God has taught the girls so much from this experience and they both have confidence in the future knowing that He is in control regardless of whether they are standing or sitting.
Tim Reflects on the Paralympics
Our CEO, Tim Wood, recently appeared on the Torch Trust 'Reflections' radio show on Premier, speaking about the legacy (or not!) of the London Paralympic games.
You can have a listen by downloading the file from their page: follow this link to visit the page. It's the 4th August episode, on the 'Paralympic Legacy'.
Preparing for Marriage
Since this blog has begun, it has mainly been about my work for Through The Roof, but I thought I'd have a change. I'd like to share with you some of the things that are happening in my life. Maybe this will give a new insight into what it's like to live as a blind person, perhaps it will make you think in a different way, but I hope that whatever you get out of it it will be interesting.
At the time of writing this, it is just under 5 weeks till my wedding day (saturday september 7th at 11 am, Potton Baptist Chapel Horslow Street Potton Sandy Bedfordshire SG19 2NS).
For most people, planning a wedding is filled with constant decision making. It's a time to look round at every type of dress, suit, every sort of flower and every hairstyle imaginable. For me though, its been rather more difficult. Rather than being bombarded with choice, there has been nothing for me to choose from.
I was filled with excitement when me and mum headed out to the shops to start looking for bridesmaid's dresses. We happily wandered into the first shop and discovered that they no longer had their wedding section in store. Instead, we were offered a catalogue and told that anything we wanted could be ordered in. the only things they had was a rack of last year's clothes which they were selling off cheep. We looked, but since I have 6 bridesmaids, and all the dresses were individual and not available in different sizes, let alone large quantities, it was hopeless.
We made our way round each shop, but at each one, the story was the same. They had all given into demands of online trading. By this time, i was getting pretty fed up, and so was mum. We exhausted all the obvious shops, and even tried some highly priced, "proper" bridal shops. We even went down to Oxfam's bridal department, but there was nothing. The day was fast going downhill.
We were trying to find the last shop in a vain hope that that would be better than the others, and mum stopped to ask a lady for directions. The lady directed mum and then turned to me and asked "who's going to be a bridesmaid then?" I was somewhat stunned, but I eventually replied, "well actually, I'm the bride". there was a surprised "oh!" and the conversation moved on. It reminded me of the day we had gone to a wedding fair to gather ideas. I had been walking with my sister and mum. At each stand that caught our interest we stopped. I asked the questions, but each time they turned to Jenny and asked "so, you're the bride? do you have a date?" I almost thought about wearing my engagement ring through my nose, or having a sign saying "bride" on my forehead.
me and mum returned home disappointed. Mum said that she would look on the internet for bridesmaid dresses. My response was to burst into tears of frustration! I had never even considered the possibility that I would be unable to feel each dress and help make the decision on the right ones. I had never thought it would be so impossible. I was now completely unable to participate in this part of the wedding. I could only see the dresses when they had been chosen, ordered, and had arrived. I couldn't even help look. A screen reader is good, but it doesn't have the ability to describe pictures. It was left to my mum and sisters to search the web for suitable dresses.
several dresses were ordered and sent back. My mum was faced with so much choice from the internet that she was undecided on what color to have. Nothing was quite what she was looking for. I said, it didn't matter to me, and switched off at each discussion of color (and there were many). I have to say my dad switched off too, which seriously irritated my mum!
Mum finally decided on the dresses, and the color (a grape color so i'm told). Next thing on the list was to choose balloons for the reception. We had decided on balloons rather than flowers on the tables as flowers are not easy to find homes for after the wedding and don't last very long. Balloons can be given away to the children and give the reception a slightly unique twist. Mum and I went to see the balloon lady together. Here too though, I was sidelined. There were slideshows of different arrangements of balloons, different examples of color to be shown and pictures of different weights to hold the balloons down with. It has been very hard to help with most of the wedding preparations as most of the things have been ordered online, the cake design was found in a book, the flowers were again just a list of colors I couldn't understand. mum and my sisters did their best to describe the cake, the wedding invites, the balloon arrangements and the dresses and accessories. My aunty who is doing the flowers promised to choose flowers that have a smell to them. All this however, was largely out of my control.
My wedding dress had been bought several years ago, when I attended Junior Trinity music college on saturdays. I wasn't planning a wedding back then, (my fiancee and I met last June on a Torch activity holiday) but the dress was in a charity shop window, priced at £25. I can remember feeling it and thinking "that's the dress"! I remember us cycling back to the car on our tandem with the dress balanced over the saddle bags. although I knew that it didn't fit, I was sure it could be altered. Another of my aunts is a dress-maker, and we took it to her. She did a lot of thinking and managed to make the dress big enough for me. Imagine my chagrin when i came back from a holiday recently and discovered i could not fit in it again! Crash diet to the rescue! But I love the dress. It's really tactile. I won't describe it in this post, but maybe after the wedding.
my hair and jewelry are another thing I could get involved in picking. All shops have jewelry, and it was fun to browse each shop with mum and choose from all the different types of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
I have always done my hair myself. I've enjoyed learning and using different styles. I've always considered that since I don't wear make up, my hair is something I can make myself look nice with. For the wedding though, I get a pair of hairdressers! the decision is now if i should wear it up or down! It's fun experimenting with the different styles.
My fiancee Will and I are both blind, so it is just as hard for him to be involved. One thing we did decide on though at the beginning, and were able to sort out ourselves, was the reception venue, the honeymoon location, and the decision to add a bit of unique style to our wedding by hiring a synthetic ice rink. This was brought about from us going ice skating in January. we decided that instead of a "first dance" we would have a "first skate". We don't like loud music, its disorientating for people who rely so heavily on their ears. We thought that the children would love to skate (some of the kids in both our families have never skated) you may think it's a bit odd to have an ice rink, but skating is something we can both do, whereas neither of us can dance to save our lives. the "first dance" question has been bothering a lot of people. When we replied "we aren't going to have one" we met with shocked responses of "but you have to!" along with the manager of the venue saying "where is the disco going?" We almost got cornered into having a first dance, but when we stepped back and thought about it, it was something neither of us was comfortable with. We both hate discos, and feel like twits trying to dance because we've never watched anyone else and don't know how it's done. Also there is a very great risk we could either tread on each-other's toes, bang into something, or trip over my dress!
I have to say that out of everything, the service has been the easiest to organize. Apart from a slight disagreement on which isle i will walk down, how we're going to fit all the guests in, and where we will sign the register, it's all been straight forward. We have asked Torch trust if they would produce some large print and braille orders of service, and they've agreed, so no one will be left out. There will be a slide show of videos while we are signing the register, and I am hoping we can put some music behind it so there is something for people who can't see to listen too.
Our feelings on photographs is "they are pointless! and they take ages!" we asked one of my brothers to video the wedding, so that as well as the audio, we have something to show to friends, and because of the audio track, we'll know what's going on. we're also getting the service on CD as the church will be recording it. After a lot of persuasion, we agreed to have 20 minutes at the most for photos. This should give people enough time to take some for themselves. There will be no official photographer though.
all in all, its been a roller coaster ride, but we know; its all going to be worth it! As long as God is there, and we are there, and the pastor and our close family, we'll be happy. In the end what it boils down to is, as long as we are married in the sight of God, never mind everything else! That's not to say that everybody's efforts to make the day special won't be appreciated, but for us, the vows are the most important things.
I will write and tell you how it all goes.
Our New Newsletter!
Our Wheels for the World team has recently returned from a distribution in Mukono, Uganda, where they gave away the 8000th wheelchair ever distributed by Wheels. It’s an amazing accomplishment, but it’s only part of a fantastic distribution – read all about it in the Summer 2013 Vital Link newsletter.
This issue also includes…
• Our move and new warehouse
• Lives changed on the Dalesdown holiday
• Area Networks
• Stories from fundraisers and supporters
Please get in touch (on 01372 749955 or by following this link to email us) if you have any problems downloading this, or if you’d like to receive future newsletters by post or email.