Don’t turn out the spotlight on disability
Today sees the launch of Britain’s Personal Best, a Big Lottery Fund-supported campaign which invites everyone in the UK to achieve a ‘PB’ as part of a new annual national celebration of personal achievement.
In this guest blog, Martyn Sibley explains how he’ll be travelling the length of the country in his wheelchair to raise cash for his favourite charity. Having been inspiring by the athletic achievements of last year’s medal-winning athletes, he’s more determined than ever before to raise awareness of disability.
Like others all across the UK I was spellbound by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and it wasn’t just the sport. For me it was about the bright light put on disability never before witnessed in the four corners of the UK.
Who am I? My name is Martyn Sibley, a regular guy who happens to have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which means I cannot walk, lift anything heavier than a book or shower by myself.
I have a Masters degree, I have travelled the world as far as Australia, I drive my own car, run my own business, and have been scuba diving. I live independently in London.
My day-to-day life consists of surmounting hurdles that a non-disabled person would never encounter.
Whether crossing the road, accessing public transport or overcoming stereotypes, there are always additional challenges to overcome. So taking up the mantel from last year’s Games I wanted to do something big to help people understand the challenges I and many others face on a daily basis, and to raise money for my favourite charity, Scope.
Today as I announce my role as an ambassador for Britain’s Personal Best, I have set myself the greatest challenge of my life – to pilot my wheelchair every inch of the 970 miles from John o’ Groats to Land’s End. I will begin my journey in September and aim to complete it on 5 October in time for the Britain’s Personal Best big weekend 4-6 October.
During the Games the recording of competitors’ ‘personal best’s or ‘PBs’ became commonplace as athletes secured lifetime achievements. The idea behind Britain’s Personal Best is simple; it takes the notion of the ‘Personal Best’ and transitions it from its current association with athletic accomplishment and instead invites everyone in the UK to achieve a ‘PB’ as part of a new annual national celebration of personal achievement.
I want to inspire other disabled people to achieve their own personal best and encourage non-disabled people to challenge their own preconceptions of disability. With Britain’s Personal Best we are building on how inspired the UK felt after London 2012. It’s a call for each and every one of us to dig deep and find something amazing that shows us at our own personal best.
It’s about helping each other and ourselves, taking on a challenge that is intellectual, sporting, artistic, healthy or just plain scary. Personally, I’m excited to challenge myself following in the footsteps of those inspiring Olympians from the Olympic and Paralympic games. It won’t be easy, but that’s par for the course.
I also want to encourage others to challenge their personal best. It doesn’t need to be as crazy as mine; just leave your comfort zone, stretch yourself and have fun! Some people will be raising money for their favourite charities, doing something that they have never achieved before, together or as individuals.
I care about disability and I care that the bright light from last year’s Games doesn’t go out. This will be my personal best. What’s yours?
Britain’s Personal Best big weekend will take place 4-6 October 2013. To sign up and take part, please visit www.whatsyours.org.