6 steps to encourage healthy eating habits in disabled children

Deborah French is a cookery teacher and activity coordinator for disabled children and their families. She has a son on the autistic spectrum, a daughter with Down’s syndrome and young twins, and is the author of a new cookery book for disabled children.

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Walking for wellbeing

In September we’re encouraging people to get active and take part in our Steptember event! The event may be called Steptember, but walking isn’t the only way to reach your daily step count. You can run, wheel, cycle, swim or even dance your way to glory. If you use a wheelchair, here’s some inspiration for you.

Guest post from Bonnie Friend, writer for Walk magazine

There is an awful lot in the news at the moment on the power of walking for improved health. It’s a great way to lose weight, gentle on the joints, and gets you out into the fresh air.

What is sometimes overlooked though is the impact that it can have on psychological wellbeing, and speaking to members of the Ramblers and Disabled Ramblers, the potency of that becomes a striking reality.

Walk magazine spoke to one lady who was able to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through walking and a man who, after 20 years suffering with depression, declared that the best antidote he has found is to garner the courage to head out for a stroll along the Pennine Way.

It is not to say that walking is going to be the complete answer to every problem, but in a world where we struggle to find solutions to complex issues, it is reassuring to know that something as simple as a walk can provide untold comfort.

Where this becomes a whole lot trickier however, is where mobility poses an extra obstacle, and this is what the people at Disabled Ramblers have been working tirelessly to rectify.

There are thousands of miles of tracks and footpaths around the UK, and only a fraction of them are currently as accessible as they could be. Predominantly in national parks such as the Malvern Hills.

John Cuthbertson, Director of Disabled Ramblers is passionate about initiatives that look to remove or find alternatives to manmade barriers such as steps, stiles and gates that limit accessibility for anyone with a disability.

Another part of their work sees the categorization of walking routes for their accessibility level, and the organization of around 50 nationwide group walks each year. They have a number of specialised mobility scooters (Trampers) available to borrow and group walks see around 20-30 people participating each time alongside 15-25 carers. Details are carefully adhered to in order to make the experience as easy as possible for anyone wanting to join, such as the inclusion of a mobile toilet transported on a trailer.

The upshot of this careful organisation is something that has an indisputably positive outcome. “We have a guy with Motor Neurone Disease who joins us and is adamant that the walks have extended his lifespan,” says John, continuing: “the big things that people experience are good company, meeting like-minded individuals, and a big change in both psychological and physical wellbeing as a result of being able to get out into their beloved countryside.”

As one walker said, “when I reach somewhere beautiful and look around I can’t help but think it would make anyone smile.” If nothing else, that seems like a pretty perfect reason to give it a try.

Has this inspired you? Sign up to Steptember and get out there to explore!