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  • Writer's pictureKyrby Brown

Churchill Fellowship Day Twenty: Pause for Thought

We took the opportunity to bimble about a bit yesterday, we visited the mall and scoped out the Garden of the Gods before heading to a nearby dine-in cinema to watch Kingdom of The Planet of The Apes. It was good to take some time to catch up with myself as I was feeling a little worn by all the travel. Cinema is something familiar, as is music, it’s important to ground yourself with these things - that’s something I’m learning.

I have been collecting pins from each of the places we have visited. So far, nearing my halfway point, I have collected 10 pins.

Image Description: Pins on my wheelchair bag, it’s getting rather full!

I can’t believe I’m nearly half way - time has passed by quickly but home and normal routine seems a million years ago and a million miles away. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity I have been given to explore these contrasting places. I am learning a great deal every day, and not just about adaptive recreation. I have to keep centring myself in the moment, stop myself from chasing future concerns as I know this experience will flash by and soon I’ll have to worry about ‘the norm’ again.

I think it’s a good time to note 5 key things of importance so far, so here we go:

  1. America is vast, my friends at STRIDE described it as 52 countries on one land mass, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Not only is each state different in its feel but each town has a distinct personality. You can travel one hour from one location to another and experience something entirely different. Not only that but you can cross the road into a different neighbourhood and the contest crashes down on you. It’s a land of extremes, and extreme contrasts.

  2. The infrastructure here is newer and more advanced in many ways, getting around has been a bit easier than I have generally experienced in the UK. BUT (and it’s a big but) I have seen hardly any other powerchair users out of doors. Despite the glorious accessible trails on offer and the equipment available, there are not very many people in wheelchairs full stop, and even fewer in powerchairs. I don’t know why, I can only make ignorant guesses at the moment, but it’s something I would like to explore more in the future.

  3. The food here is problematic, it’s hard and expensive to find food that isn’t pumped full of additives, sugars and various other mysterious things. My bland British pallet is desperate for some plain food, veggies full of goodness and meat that isn’t over-seasoned and over-sweet. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some great food whilst here but I honestly can’t wait to get back to my boring everyday diet.

  4. There’s an apparent hierarchy of ‘handicap’ (I bloody hate this word by the way) here. At the top of this hierarchy sits Veterans. There are Veteran discounts everywhere we have visited, and an overwhelming number of Move Unlted’s programmes were clearly focussed on this group. I’m not saying these concessions and programmes shouldn’t exist, but what about those of us who have additional costs because we were born Disabled? For example, only one of the attractions we have visited offer free carers tickets. As someone who has to travel with an essential companion this seems unfair. The VA have incredible funding to support those Disabled by war, but I have met people who can’t fund the support they need due to congenital disability, having a negative impact on their whole life. This isn’t right.

  5. There is a big focus on aesthetics everywhere you look, even more-so than at home. There seems to be a lot of ideals being thrown out left right and centre and many of these are about how you look, both aesthetically and financially. In addition, the power of pharma in the privatised health system is quite scary. Drugs are advertised here like sofas and carpets are at home. Constantly encouraging you to be better. I can’t help but wonder how this must affect the American psyche around those of us who could (wrongly) be deemed sick or unfortunate. Too many people wrongly equate Disability and illness, I wonder if they view me as someone who needs healing?

I am looking forward to a few move days of soaking in the mountain beauty here in Colorado, before hitting California for the final leg of the adventure. I know that, once again, it’ll be very different, for the worse or better remains to be seen. I’ll be blogging another 20 days yet, I wonder if my observations will change…

Image Description: My wheelchair driving away from the camera down a red sandstone dust road towards large grey rocks with mountains in the distance.

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