OICAN Outdoor Event

 

The OICAN event was organised by the BBS, and when I first saw this post, my curiosity overflowed out of control and I rushed to the BBS and the Calvert Trust websites to do all the research I could. I was blown away by all the amazing and exciting things wheelchair users and other people with disabilities could do. These included cycling, swimming, abseiling, rock climbing, archery and many more.

The staff were amazing and very accommodating. They were able to keep a delicious evening meal for us as we had arrived late. After we ate, staff member Rory gave an introduction and a tour around the building and gave us an update on what we would be doing the next day.

When I first arrived at the centre, I was extremely anxious thinking I wouldn’t be able to access the building or wouldn’t be able to move around on my own. Little did I know that my doubts and worries would dissipate as I entered inside and was shown to our room. I was happy to see a comfortable electric bed, a sink and automatic doors everywhere which made me feel free to explore this place which would build my confidence as an individual.

Later that evening everyone headed upstairs to the hall and sat around together playing pool, getting drinks from the bar and catching up till past midnight. To be able to socialise in this was really amazing.

 

The Adventure begins!

 

On Saturday everyone had an early rise and when entering the cafeteria, the smell of breakfast was very welcoming.

We split into 2 groups with a guide and all headed off to do our activities, one group did archery and the others did the zipwire and abseiling. Our group did archery and we went outside to a little field and everyone was able to participate effortlessly because of a special bow that was designed to support the participants comfortably. This was a first for me and the feeling that it created was one of amazement.

After lunch our groups switched to the abseiling wall and the zipwire. For the abseiling wall they had a harness that can also be used in a special wheelchair that buckles you in and lets you sail down the side of the wall, which was really high!

Also, for the zipwire you use the same harness, unfortunately this time the harness was uncomfortable for me to use, but I do not regret trying it and hopefully next time I will be able to go all the way.

On Sunday morning our first activity was cycling. We all walked down towards the lake and boat house, some of us took a little golf cart. We were given specially adapted bikes, which I was able to transfer onto. We had such an amazing time riding around the lake. Later that day we took part in a challenge course which was something we could all join in together. All the mini games we played required us to work together and use our communication skills to reach our goals. After the challenge course we made our way to a little area in the woods for bushcraft. The guide taught us how to make a fire and how to also make popcorn! Later that night we had dinner and returned to the hall for karaoke night and drinks.

This weekend was something beyond my wildest dreams, I can’t wait to have the chance to return and in the end we all agreed that #OICAN!

 

You can see the full OICAN Outdoor Event Image Gallery here. 

 

 

Don’t let your ego get in the way, everyone has to start somewhere

 

Start small, work your way to your goal, show people what you are capable of. If I can do it then so can you.

Lockdown has been tough for many of us especially having to shield away from loved ones. It is hard not being able to go out to visit friends and family and have to keep a social distance from them, hopefully not for long and we are starting to see light at the end of tunnel.

Throughout the lockdown a lot of people had spare time to learn new things and developing new skills to keep themselves occupied such as practicing the guitar, baking, cooking, gardening, learning a new language, making videos on Tik Tok, virtual quizzes and exercising.

I still have college work to do which is keeping me busy every day as well as working out 3 – 4 days a week. My goal is to work up to 5 days, now that is a burner mentally and physically.

In this blog I am going to be talking about what inspired me to work out and how I keep fit with having Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

 

“I was worried what type of workouts I would be able to carry out at the gym and at home.”

 

Over the years I have not been very confident with my body and the way it looks especially with having a barrel chest, curved limbs and scoliosis spine. Having the severe type of Osteogenesis Imperfecta and using an electric wheelchair I thought I was not going to be able to do any form of physical exercising. For a long time, I could not find any information at all online to support my needs for keeping fit and build muscle mass. I happened to come across someone with the same condition as me from America on Facebook who does body building, he inspired me to try out different work out routines and told me to try creating my own routines. I was worried what type of workouts I would be able to carry out at the gym and at home. So, I began researching various gyms around local towns nearby my area that would be able to fulfil my needs to achieve my goals.

 

My goal is to improve my core strength and my general fitness and wellbeing

 

I have been attending various gyms for 2 years, one of them was a council owned gym, one private. I had to start somewhere, therefore I chose the council gym because I did not know where to start or what machines and equipment that I would be able to use, also the membership was affordable. I met with a PT (Personal Trainer) carrying out an assessment trying different equipment to see how much physical movement and strength I have. They created a workout plan which has all the workout routines that I can do on my own throughout each gym session. After a while I realised that the council gym was not suitable for me, I felt that there was not enough room to manoeuvre around and was worried that I might trip someone up while working out. During the first lockdown I worked out a bit at home using dumbbells and resistance bands to keep my strength up and reduce stress and anxiety to try get my mind off the pandemic. When the first lockdown began to ease, I started attending a private gym somewhere with more facilities to choose from and more room to manoeuvre around in the wheelchair.

 

“I always listen to my body making sure it is not overly tired or too sore to workout”

 

I am very careful and cautious when it comes to exercising, I always listen to my body making sure it is not overly tired or too sore to workout, I do not want to cause any injuries to myself such as breaking a bone. I use a variety of weights and resistance bands for different work out techniques these range from:

  • 5kg – 2kg Dumbbells
  • 2kg kettlebells
  • 2kg Bell bar
  • 2kg Medicine ball
  • Adjustable resistance bands

I am gradually increasing my weights as my core strength increases.

I have felt working out has benefited me over the years and I have proven myself wrong. I would recommend exercising to other people with Brittle Bones that want to start a journey in fitness.

If you want to experience my fitness journey, follow me on Instagram @richietoner.

What were your New Years’ resolutions this year?

 

Like most of the country, mine were all the usual: get more sleep; drink more water; spend less time in the pub and more time in the gym. Perhaps more unusually, for the first two decades of my life, I never imagined I would set foot in the gym – let alone make a habit of it.

Like many people with OI, I spent most of my school PE lessons sitting at the side, or reading in the library. I notoriously received my best mark for PE during the term when I never turned up for a single lesson – the teacher simply never found out who I was!

Although my parents were great at taking me swimming and tricycling, and my mum very bravely even let me attend ballet classes, by the time I was 19 and using a wheelchair full-time, I had come to accept that fitness and sport simply wasn’t something I ‘did’. As a coxswain for my university rowing club, I spent a lot of time around athletes, without ever attempting more than physiotherapy myself – only ever sitting on a rowing machine for comedy photos. Although I still swam, I chose to swim at antisocial hours, too self-conscious to risk being spotted by non-disabled peers.

Fast-forward to the Brittle Bone Society’s 2015 VOICE weekend, at the Calvert Trust activity centre in Kielder, when I found myself having a go at sports including archery, clay pigeon shooting, and even abseiling. Trying out new sports alongside other OIers was a huge confidence boost; back at uni, I joined a wheelchair racing club, where I made a great bunch of friends and a great pair of biceps. Although I’ll never be a Paralympian (I’m no Jack Binstead or Jordanne Whiley!) I got so much more confident about my own ability to exercise – to put strain on my body without it fracturing – that when I graduated and moved to London, I did the unimaginable: I joined a gym.

Passing the ranks of tall, non-disabled gym bunnies when I turned up for my induction session, I was really nervous. What if I broke something? What if I wasn’t able to use any of the machines? Worse – what if everyone stared?

My induction session really put me at ease. I explained OI to the personal trainer, and he worked out which machines I could use, and which exercises would be most helpful. Although I was initially embarrassed about having to use all the machines on the lightest setting, I soon became more comfortable – after all, it’s better to work up a sweat lifting the lightest weights, than never to work up a sweat at all!

After a few weeks, I realised I actually felt less ‘stared-at’ in the gym than I do in the supermarket; other gym-goers were more interested in their own fitness plans (and often their own reflections!) than in staring at anyone else.

I’ve now been a member of a gym for three years. I gym, swim, and attend group yoga classes, adapting the poses to suit my abilities. Although I still sometimes feel self-conscious, I know better than anyone what I can and can’t do. Regular exercise helps me with fatigue and bone pain, makes everyday pushing much easier, and is really beneficial for my mental health. As long as I’m keeping myself fit, I don’t mind who sees!

Exercise is great for our bones, and great for our minds. You don’t have to be a Paralympian, or use any fancy equipment or wheelchair – you don’t even have to join a gym (although if you would like to, membership is often subsidised for disabled members). Why not talk to your local gym, leisure centre or doctor about what exercise could be suitable for you – or visit www.parasport.org.uk to find a parasport club in your area.

 

Through the power of sport, I’ve grown to realise I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be – both physically and mentally

 

 

Sport has been the most consistent thing in my life, and I would say it makes up a huge part of my identity as I’ve progressed to competing in the elite field. However, many people are surprised when I explain OI and my journey to competing internationally. Many don’t believe the two can be compatible, but actually you can have OI and enjoy participating in sport and exercise.

My humble beginnings come from my hydrotherapy days as a child – the water quickly became my safe haven. I was able to move in the pool in a way I wasn’t able to when out of the water. I could swim fast, do rolly pollys, and dive to the very bottom collecting all sorts of objects that lay waiting for me to bring up to the surface.

I suppose it can be a bit of a postcode lottery, but I recognise how fortunate I was to be surrounded by many opportunities to get involved with different disability sports. I live on the south coast so I’m not far away from the open water, countryside, and big cities which all have something to offer. You name the sport and I’ve probably done it!

There’s a particular memory that comes to mind of me rock climbing with one leg in plaster cast, and I suppose that image paints the perfect picture of me and my approach to life. Many people have told me “no” or that I can’t or should not do something, so I like to prove otherwise. I push the limits and I determine how far I go.

Now for the last 6 years I’ve actually settled well into the world of Athletics competing internationally as a wheelchair racer. I started competing on the track, and then last year I dipped my toes into the exciting world of road racing. I completed a couple half marathons and made my elite debut, before Covid kicked us into lockdown… My half marathon PB stands at 61 minutes and I can’t wait to be out on the roads again chasing a sub 60!

I do have to tell you though about the new flame in my life… Adaptive Boxing! Ha, you should’ve seen my mum’s face when I told her! Don’t worry though, adaptive boxing is safer in that it’s focused more on defensive work. It’s more technical and the objective is not to knockout your opponent *phew*.

But you probably never knew this sport even existed, and that’s because it hasn’t, until now. We all know boxing to be one of the biggest sports in the world for able bodied people, right? Yet somehow it’s one of the last to be adapted for those with disabilities.

So you’ll be glad to know I’ve been working with a great team of passionate people at World Boxing Council Cares as one of their newly appointed UK ambassadors to help develop safer adaptive boxing programmes. It’s exciting to be a part of the foundations of a new sport! I can’t wait to see how this journey unfolds.

No matter what sport and what level you want to participate at, I believe anyone and everyone should have the opportunity to access sport without barriers.

Whether I’m competing myself, or helping create opportunities for future adaptive athletes, just know I will always have my heart in sport.

 

Penny Clapcott has type III Osteogenesis Imperfecta and despite numerous fractures over the years she managed to achieve her dream of becoming an aerial performer. In 2012 Penny had the opportunity to perform in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony in front of millions of viewers.

“Having grown up with the BBS I was able to look up to older OI’ers and realise there are no barriers to living life in the way you want to, it is your choice, all down to the restrictions you put upon yourself. I didn’t grow up wondering whether I would be able to drive, get a job or live independently because I saw people like me doing it, giving me a lot of confidence growing up. I just wanted to find my own way to do things, they might not be conventional but they get the job done! So thank you BBS”

 

You can hear my story in the film, including my experience of  taking part in the paralymics as a trapeze artist.

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