Two former Paralympians have recently launched Access Adventures – a charity created to inspire other people with physical disabilities to get involved in adventure sports.
Jane Sowerby and Tim Farr, both on the British Disabled Ski Team representing Great Britain at the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver 2010, know what a positive effect sport can have on people with disabilities. Teaming up with scooter reviews and their long-standing friend Clare Williams – a physiotherapist, currently working with injured military at Headley Court – the three have established a charity which organises adaptive adventure camps.
“When the doctor delicately told me I’d never walk again, it felt like my life was over. I was completely paralysed from the waist down and thought I’d never be able to partake in extreme sports; I was desperate to find some kind of adrenaline rush again. Then, just over a year after my injury, I went on an adaptive ski camp; it was my saviour. There’s an incredible sense of freedom that comes from disabled skiing. I could finally say bye to the sideboards for transfers to wheelchairs which I’d developed an animosity with even if it was for a while. The feeling of leaving your wheelchair behind and hitting the slopes is indescribable.”
Jane, Tim and Clare could all see that there was a gap in the market for adaptive adventure camps, and more importantly, a real need to provide and expand the kind of adaptive sports available for disabled people. So, Access Adventures was born.
“I have dreamed for a long time about setting up an organisation which offers people with physical disabilities the opportunity to experience some adventure sports that they may not have thought possible. It’s exciting to finally be doing it”
“Not everyone wants to do the adaptive sports, like basketball and athletics, that are readily available. Quite often people are searching for something fun, to challenge themselves and push boundaries”
This summer, the team have trialled numerous waterski/ wakeboard camps, as well as an adventure camp in Somerset which included land sailing and kayaking.
The Charity Commission has just awarded Access Adventures charitable status after recognising the significant service the organisation can provide to those with a recent or long-standing physical disability.
“Tim and I have first-hand experience of the huge benefit our camps will have to people with physical disabilities and Clare’s extensive experience working in disability rehab will provide a fantastic asset to the charity.”
“I know personally how being involved in adaptive adventure sports can turn your life around and it’s been incredible to witness the same effect on others at our camps this summer.
“Life with a disability can be very daunting and the psychological benefit following involvement in sports cannot be underestimated. It improves confidence and helps everyday challenges seem more manageable.”
Unfortunately, adaptive sports are far more expensive than their able-bodied equivalent, due to the extra equipment and more tailored instruction required. This means that some people with disabilities just can’t afford to access them, and the fantastic benefits they bring. Now that the Charity Commission has officially recognised the benefits of Access Adventures, the team can begin fundraising to subsidise these costs with the ultimate goal to make the camps accessible for all.
Next year will see a range of camps provided by Access Adventures including scuba diving and kitesurfing. Since skiing is where Jane and Tim’s passion for adaptive sport began, a ski camp is also definitely on the cards in the not too distant future.