Health and fitness round-up!

We’ve had a great few weeks discussing health and wellbeing, helping us get into 2015 with a fresh and active perspective. Here’s a handy round-up in case you missed any of our posts. 

Health and fitness tips on the community

We’re really pleased to have launched a health and fitness tips section of our community, which is full of great advice from parents, carers and disabled people. Here’s one from Alex_2014:

“I workout my legs at the gym, and because I have cerebral palsy, it helps me manage it, by strengthening my muscles in that area. I use the leg press and leg extension. I also use a stationary bike, to help with my stamina, as I can get tired easily.”

We’d love you to have a look through and get involved in the conversations, we’re sure you will have loads of great ideas!

Wheely good exercisesFive photos showing a man doing wheelchair stretching exercises

Kris from Wheely Good Fitness gave us his top five wheelchair exercises, which were really popular on Facebook and Twitter.  And if you’re feeling more adventurous then you can step them up a notch to your favourite music.

Transforming perceptions in the fitness industryThree men in the gym with JGFitness clothes

Josh has cerebral palsy, but he’s never let it get in the way. He told us all about the benefits of bodybuilding, how it’s increased his stamina and confidence, and made him loads of new friends. He’s transforming perceptions of disability in the fitness industry and he loves it.

Ask a fitness expert

We had a Q&A with Rob, a disabled sports coach from Active Nation, a national charity committed to ‘persuading the nation to be active.’ If you get in quick he’ll still be able to answer any health and fitness questions relating to disability you might have!

Have a rambleDisabled ramblers - people walking and in motorised chairs

And if all this fitness talk gets you tired, remember that it’s not just about getting your heart rate up. It’s so important just to get out and about into the fresh air – it does a world of good for body and mind. That’s why we recently had a guest blog featuring the Disabled Ramblers, who find alternatives to manmade barriers such as steps, stiles and gates in the countryside that limit accessibility for disabled people.

Need a goal?Someone holding a medal

If we’ve got you motivated but you’d like a goal to get you going, you can always check out Scope’s fundraising events for inspiration.

We’d love to know how your start to 2015 has been going – have you stuck to your New Year’s Resolutions? Has any of our health and fitness information inspired you to get active? 

I’m young, disabled and here’s my story

It’s National Storytelling week, so we’re highlighting some of the stories young disabled people have been telling us about their lives.

We recently invited a group of young disabled people to take part in a storytelling workshop, to encourage them to talk aboBrandon writing his storyut what’s happening in their lives and why things are important to them.

“Telling your story can be a great way to connect with other people and bring to life issues that affect you,” said Information Development Officer, Charles Clement. “It can let people know what you’re feeling, and that’s very important for some young disabled people, who may struggle to get themselves heard.”

The workshop, which was led by Advocreate, looked at what makes a good story, and why people should listen. It focused on the impact a personal story can have, and what captures people’s interest.

“If you want to get a wheelchair ramp installed at your local cafe, for example, you can either just ask for a ramp or you can tell the cafe a bit about yourself and why you need one,” Charles explained. “Telling your story is a far more powerful way of getting your point across.”

The young people taking part in the workshop had a range of impairments. Some were wheelchair users, others had autism and some had no speech, so the workshop explored different ways of telling a story, including film and writing.

“Giving young disabled people the skills to tell their own stories is very important,” said Charles. “It can increase their self esteem, reduce their feelings of isolation and help them cope with challenges in life.”

Brandon’s story

“Being bullied in class. People throw stuff at me. They pick on me. Say names. They swear at me and I feel angry, sad. Sometimes I stay quiet. Sometimes I react. I chuck stuff – my books – back and shout until a teacher comes. I wish I wasn’t bullied. Please think about what you’re doing and how you would feel if you got bullied.” 

Brandon is one of the young disabled people who took part in the storytelling workshop. He is 13 and has Global Development Delay, and has experienced bullying at school.

Brandon’s mum, Melanie said, “He has had an Brandon's story written on a piece of paperextremely hard time at school from day one, and he often comes home crying. He finds it very difficult to get his ideas across.

“The workshop was fantastic for him because he’s never felt confident talking about himself, yet by the end of the day he’d managed to tell his story for the first time. It really was quite a breakthrough.”

 

If you are a young disabled person and you would like to see your story on the Scope website, please send it to trendsetters@scope.org.uk. Here is a useful storytelling guide you can use.

We’re also publishing 100 stories from disabled people and their families in the run up to the general election as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.

“In prison I started visualising a future. Now I’m aiming for the Paralympics”

Guest post from Craig Green. Craig turned his life around after a spell in prison, and is now a Paralympic cyclist with an eye on Rio 2016. His story is part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

I’m the manager of a YMCA gym in Peterborough that works specifically with disabled people.

We’re a community gym – disabled people can come here and know they’re not only going to get a good service, but that they’re going to meet like-minded people.

I’ve found that because I’m visibly disabled myself, people feel at ease the moment they come in. I’m missing the fingers on my right hand, and my right pectoral muscles – although no one really knows that when I’m wearing my clothes!

Craig in the gym

How life has changed

Five years ago my life was very different – I’m not proud of my past, but it’s certainly shaped me to be the person I am.

When I was at school, I was told I’d never be able to get into a trade – bricklayer, plumber, carpet fitter – because of my arm. It was what all my friends were doing and I was never really told about any other options.

I tried out for the army and the fire service. I was fit enough for it, but I failed the test because I was slower at things like climbing. They saw my disability and basically said, ‘Look, we can’t do anything for you’.

I went through some jobs in factories, and after that there was nothing really. I ended up going down the wrong path, and got involved with things I shouldn’t have.Craig in the gym

Time in prison

One Thursday morning in July 2010, I was arrested.  I was eventually sent to prison for four years for drugs offences. I left behind my girlfriend and 15-month old daughter.

The turning point for me was the moment I got arrested – it was the pivotal moment for me, and I’d never take that back. I did a lot of growing up, and started visualising a future. I got myself fit in my cell, and started volunteering at the prison gym.

After a year I was allowed to volunteer outside of the prison – that’s when I started volunteering at the YMCA gym, and met Julie, who is my boss now.  When I was released in 2012, I carried on volunteering there. In January 2013 the manager’s job came up, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.

Getting into cycling

In 2013 I did the London Marathon, and soon afterwards I stumbled across an event in Sheffield called Sportsfest, which showcases all the Paralympic sports and invites disabled people to try out.

I met some people from British Cycling, and they asked me to do a trial on a static bike. It was only six days after the marathon, so my legs were in bits. I’d lost almost every toenail!

But I had a go, and they basically said ‘Wow – where have you been all this time?’Craig with a medal after a race

My first ever race was the national championships in July 2013. I came twelfth and was not overly disappointed, but I knew I could do better. Two months later I did another race in Sunderland, and was the first disabled rider over the line.

Setting my sights on Rio

I was introduced to my coach, Adam Ellis, in March 2014. He got me on a training programme, and since I’ve been working with him, results have been getting better and better.

In July I went out to the cycling World Cup in Spain, and came 20th in the road race out of all the top disabled riders in the world. That’s a great result, but I’m still not happy.

I’ve started thinking of the bigger picture. I’m on British Cycling’s radar already, but I still have a lot to prove – and I want to make Team GB at the Paralympics in 2016.

Every rider who’s got aspirations to go to Rio needs to be picked by this September, so I’ve got eight months to make the grade. All my time, effort, blood, sweat and tears is geared to me making that cut.

Craig's medalIf it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. I run a gym, I’m a partner, I’m now a dad of two – and then I’m a cyclist on top of that. I’m not a robot who rides a bike.

But I know what I’m capable of, and I know with the right training, the right equipment, the right support network around me, that I can go all the way. Somebody’s got to, so why shouldn’t it be me?

Craig is taking part in the 2015 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for Scope this August. Follow him on Twitter for updates.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories.