"THANK YOU" ACTIVE8
Let me take you back 16 odd years ago, when I got home there was a letter in the post for me. You never get post at that age. It’s either a birthday card or something you don't understand from the bank, usually about saving. It wasn’t my birthday, and it wasn’t from the bank, so what could it be?
This may be a good time to tell you that I have Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy...this was a letter to ask me if wanted to join Active8.
What is Active8? This charity is a Cornish charity for physically disabled young people and they were offering me and 9 others great opportunities as part of their latest project group.
During a 2 year programme, one weekend a month, we would meet up with the same group of people doing activities that people didn't think that disabled people could do... from rock climbing to sky diving and surfing and most of all to make friends on the same as myself.
I burst into tears and kept saying I wasn't disabled but inside I was quite excited. I didn't really know how to feel. I suppose excited but worried at the same time. We then went to a meeting and met the others who would be in my group for the 2 year project. Everyone seemed lovely and I was excited to be involved in this group.
Roll on May 2006... Well yes, you would have thought this, but I have had a long time to think about going, maybe too long. I got home and mum had packed my stuff already to go. This made me panic and I was very nervous about the whole thing so I refused to go. Of course with my mum I was sure to be going. So, she picked me up and placed me in the car and off we went.
I was so nervous at this point but I went through the front door and have never looked back. All 10 of us were nervous and not really talking so the ice breaking games really helped us getting to know each other. It was so lovely to have friends that knew what it was like to be disabled. I have learned a lot from everyone.
I didn't like to be different. Also, I didn't know simple things such as you could get a free carer ticket to go to most entertainment places, concerts and sports events.
Cooking was a big part of it too. We were put into groups and we had to choose what we were going to cook. We would go shopping on the Fridays before arriving at the centre and we would be given the weekend’s budget.
We would usually do a roast on the Sunday, sometimes cooking for the parents when they arrived to take us home. When I told my non-disabled friends what we got up to, they wished they could come. I had and have a great group of friends.
In our second year, we were offered an opportunity to do the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh, which involved 3 sections – volunteering, physical and skill. I chose volunteering at an animal centre, photography and camping.
We had to plan a route (no google maps) and we decided what the girls would be eating and decided on couscous and some peppers… we all decided that we don't like couscous after that weekend as that was all we had to eat. I am also the reason they now make everyone wear factor 50 suncream (sorry kids)… I was so sunburnt after that weekend! We also went camping which I hated. I am one for my home comforts. If you know me well, you will know I was less than impressed.
As soon as Active8 had started it was over in a flash. We as a group made great friends and luckily for us we all lived in the southwest, from St Austell straight down to Penzance. So we would meet up as friends away from the charity which was also great fun.
We then organised our own holiday to Butlins in 2011 before people went their separate ways for a bit - some to residential colleges, independent living support and some to uni. All 10 of us were all born within two years of each other which meant we were all in the same stage of life (School/College).
As a charity they employed a youth worker for the older young people (18-30) this would include days out. We went paragliding over Bristol, and SCUBA diving.
But the one thing I will never forget is Active8 managed to secure tickets to the Paralympics in London 2012! I saw swimming, dressage and wheelchair rugby, we also went clubbing in Islington which was great fun. The atmosphere was electric all around London - it was a real buzz just to say you had been. What an honour. The other trip I really enjoyed was Crufts in 2022.
How do I say ‘Thank you’ to a charity that has changed my life for the better? If it wasn't for Active8 I don't know where I would be. Thank you.
I have now reached the ripe old age of 30. It’s time for me to bow out and let a new lot of teenagers and young people discover what they can do (remember when you thought 30 was old!). Well, we all get there.
About the author
My name is Heather, I have been part of Active8 since I was 13 and I come from Hayle in Cornwall. Moving out at 19 to become independent, now I live in Redruth with my chihuahua Indy.
This South West charity has changed my life. I did things that I could have only dreamed of. Thank you for making my time with you such a great experience.
The small print made big
The Active8 blog is designed as a platform for our members and the disabled community to share their personal experiences and discussions which they are passionate about. Any views and opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of our charity.
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