Having similar disabilities to these friends allowed me to relax a little more and be a different person. I could relate to them in a way that I wasn’t able to from my friends from school.
In my last post, I talked about an after school group I joined on Tuesdays once I realised that I could not participate in PE easily at a mainstream school and I want to go into more detail about that in this post today.
The group was called Movers & Shakers which is a play on words but a creative way to describe the participants of the group.
You were a ‘Mover‘ if you were a wheelchair user and a ‘Shaker’ if you were disabled but did not require a wheelchair. We all quiet liked these descriptions and that is why the group was called ‘Movers & Shakers.’
Having similar disabilities to these friends allowed me to relax a little more and be a different person. I could relate to them in a way that I wasn’t able to from my friends at school.
I could make jokes and be understood and sympathise with others like me—which helped me deal with my situation, gain confidence and learn that it is fine to be different. They could advise me on techniques to use my disability to my advantage to do the activities.
Back at school, I continued with my lessons, feeling somewhat more cheerful as the sports club made me feel better and uplifted. However the problem within PE lessons was ongoing, the teachers weren’t very understanding and respectable of my needs and requirements which didn’t help and neither were some of my classmates.
For a few weeks, I continued PE lessons, but soon it became tiresome and fed up. Seeking advice, I spoke to the staff members at the sports club to ask what they thought and to my delight two of the staff members offered to come into my school and hold a PE lesson similar to a session we have at the after school club.
Eager, I spoke to a few teaching assistants back at school and they listened to me as I told them about the difficulties I was having in the PE lessons and listened further when I told them about the sports club, and their offer to come into the school and hold a session with my class.
The teaching assistants thought this was a great idea and getting approval from my teacher, I happily organised this unique PE lesson. To my complete delight the PE lesson was a success and was a highlight. Finally my class could see how we with disabilities did sporting activities.
What made this session better and slightly amusing was the members of the sports club had brought in a number of splints and casts for my class to wear while doing the activities.
I watched my classmates and friends as they took part in the activities with splints on their arms or casts on their legs and I was amused as I watched them. I could see they were struggling and tempted to remove them and do without but the rules set before the session forbid them to.
I found this more amusing and was pleased that they got a taste of what it was like for us, having one arm or leg immobilised. When the PE lesson ended, a number of classmates approached me and told me that they enjoyed the session and now they know how it could be for those with disabilities.
My classmates and I learned lessons in that session. My classmates learned that it isn’t easy to move around when disabled. Trying to participate with one less arm or/and leg wasn’t as easy as they originally thought. I also learned that I am capable of doing something others would struggle to do if they had to do it my way.
Again as much as I try, people, teachers in particular can’t see that it’s not all about learning in the classroom and those with disabilities in mainstream school need a break out of the classroom and be with other children with similar needs to them to try something else that is more suited to their needs.
I participated in ‘Movers & Shakers’ throughout primary (elementary) school and secondary (high) school. I also participated on the Wednesdays Swimming Gala. One good thing did come out of my attendance at the Wednesday club was participating in a swimming gala.
Like the rest of the Movers and Shakers, this swimming gala was against a number of children with disabilities from different schools. For a few months prior to the swimming gala a group of us went to the local swimming pool to practice.
On the day of the swimming gala I was excited to represent my school. My teacher wasn’t quite happy that I was going all day, but wished me look all the same. As there were so many schools participating in this gala, a lot of us sat around chatting while we waiting for own turn.
Consulting the list, I saw that I was competing in a number of races during the day. When I saw the one of the schools I was competing against, I found it was the special school, where I had been attending ‘Movers & Shakers’ and a few of them I was swimming against was a few of friends of mine from the club.
I felt slightly guilty and awkward as we were usually on the same team, but I also felt my competitive edge flare and was eager to compete against them too. At the end of the day, I showered and each school was presented with medals depending on our performance.
I received two gold medals and two silver medals which I have kept to this day. The swimming gala was great and I’m so glad I did it. The Tuesday after the swimming gala, I sat with my friends at ‘Movers & Shakers’ and we laughed and chatted about it for a long time.
My favourite competition participated in was wheelchair slalom. It’s a wheelchair obstacle course which those in wheelchairs have to complete in the shortest time possible.
The obstacle course was set up to challenge our skills of moving out chairs through tight space. Moving forward, then turning through tight corners to move up the next tight path.
We were then required to turn around in full circles or turn and reverse down paths. Each competitor had to complete the obstacle course as quickly but as carefully as we could, five seconds being added if the competitor knocks into one of the obstacles or knocks one of them over.
Once completed, the competitors time was added to a score board and those with the smaller amount of time won medals for their performances. Not to toot my own horn, but I won the most medals for my performances in wheelchair slalom.
However, when I was due to start college—a form of education that is between school and university and is vastly different to them both but needed for a place at university—I had to stop going to ‘Movers & Shakers’ as my timetable was more unpredictable and I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to make each ‘Movers & Shakers’ session on a Tuesday on time.
So it really hurt, but I had to leave. The memories I have of ‘Movers & Shakers’ are wonderful and still make me smile until this day and that’s what I will hold onto.