Finding My Purpose
There are certain points in life that you will always remember for a great number of reasons. It could have been a turning point in your life, a lesson learnt or a saddening time. The time in my life I want to talk about is the time that I found my dream, my aspiration and my life goal.
As I write this now laying on my bedroom floor, sun beaming through my window, it takes me back to the scorching heat over in Texas, USA. It was there that I learnt my purpose in life. It was the first time I had ever been to America, I flew into New York (The Big Apple) then Charlotte, North Carolina and then one more connecting flight to Houston Texas! I was to spend a summer there working at a camp for special needs and challenging illnesses. The whole flight I replayed the Deliverance song over and over in my head.... Der Da Ding ding ding ding ding (You know how it goes)
I had worked with people that had disabilities before, but they were mainly physical. I would help them whilst in my job as a fitness instructor and I loved it. I got more satisfaction and enjoyment helping them to achieve simple things that we take for granted, such as being able to pick up an object after a stroke. It was nice to get away from the 3 sets of 10, chest press and muscle men flexing in the mirror trying to pop a vein. However, this camp job was going to be a whole new experience. Not just a change of career, but a chance to see the world and explore more opportunities. I actually turned down 12 other camps before accepting the one I went to, I was waiting for the right one and Texas just jumped out at me, I knew I had to go.
Each week we had different campers in with specific disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy, cancer, burn victims, skin diseases and amputees - you name it! It was a huge eye opener as I had never heard of many of these illnesses never mind seen peopl effected by them, especially in such young children. I felt so sad that this had happened to them, sympathetic and helpless. But my emotions soon changed once I saw how this amazing environment and the people that helped them.
Every single one of these campers once they entered the camp environment forgot their disability, limitations and fear. It shed away from them; they just left it all at the gate. They were bound by nothing, they had no fear and they could accomplish anything!
This was all down to the environment being completely barrier free! There was nothing we weren’t willing to do to help them achieve, and the environment also reflected that. It was inclusive rather than segregated. The ‘Real’ world is cruel and judgemental. Camp however was a place that accepted who you were and placed no limitations on you.
The two summers I spent in Texas taught me to meet people with my eyes closed. It taught me that people are only disabled by people’s pre determined expectations of them and poorly constructed environments. It taught me that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. And it showed me my dream.
Since Texas I have set up Inclusive Leisure. It is a non profit leisure club designed for disabled and impaired users but accessible by all. I aim to create more opportunities for the disabled community within the leisure industry, change perceptions and promote a more inclusive society. This is my dream and my mission.
If you would like to find out more about Inclusive Leisure, visit www.inclusiveleisure.com