Monday 6 February 2017
Today marks the last day of National Storytelling Week, 2017. At Get Yourself Active we like to post stories written by disabled people, for disabled people, about their individual experiences of being active, the challenges they’ve had to overcome, and the benefits they’ve experienced.
We’ve had a range of personal experience stories ranging from partially sighted Krav Maga doers, and individuals who have taken up running to help their mental health, to a young man with cerebral palsy whose personal assistant can just about keep up with him with all the new and fun activities he’s trying.
Sharing stories is a great way for the author to reflect on where they’ve come from and what they’ve achieved. Their stories encourage other people in similar situations to follow in their footsteps and get involved. Participating in physical activity or sport doesn’t need to be daunting. What we’re talking about at Get Yourself Active is getting active in a way that’s right for you. This could range from going on a walk or joining your local gardening club, to joining your local wheelchair basketball team and competing against other teams.
Taking part in these activities can improve wellbeing in so many ways. For example, it can help you to lose weight, and improve your fitness, balance or strength; be more independent and confident; improve your mental health; allow you to see your friends or meet new people; and be part of the community or a team.
So, why is storytelling so important?
At Get Yourself Active we are constantly on the lookout for people with great stories to share. We know that not everyone is going to be a Paralympic athlete, or be able to swim Lake Coniston, but with the right assistance everyone should be able to visit their local park or woodland and experience the outdoors, if that’s what they want to do.
Stories can offer readers of all abilities an insight into the mind of someone else. They can get glimpses into their different lifestyles and hobbies, and the benefits brought to them through participating in different activities. Not only are these stories helpful at drawing parallels between the lives of others with lived experience of disabilities, but they can also help non-disabled people see that disabled people are just like them and should be treated as equal, integrated members of society.
Some of them want to participate in physical activity and sport, and some of them don’t. Some like football, some don’t. Some don’t want to participate in ‘disability-only’ sessions, but see it as a way to be part of their local community.
“It’s about being equal and doing activities with non-disabled people. I really believe this makes everyone more accepting of disability and promotes us as the same. Our disability shouldn’t make us different. We just need a chance to express ourselves.” – Gary Hatt
It’s also great when people can see similarities between the author of the story and themselves, and can engage with them through the comments at the bottom of the post. It helps both the author and the reader to see they are not alone but that there are others who share similar experiences.
The personal experiences that are shared via our website are authentic stories from real people. It’s real, honest writing, and we hope that even just a small aspect of one of the articles could resonate with you.