Happy Summer! It’s time for days out, family time and splashing about to cool down.
Summer; where the sun shines, families hit the beach, splash parks and beautiful walks.
I took all that for granted once upon a time. Why wouldn’t I? Growing up able bodied and main stream education I had the summer months lounging around, climbing trees and playing in our local nature reserve that took me years to master the routes around with my friends.
My summers were lost in hours of adventures whilst my mum spent the days working away, I’d throw a few slices of bread on the counter, slap a tonne of that sandwich spread on (which I believe you can still buy), a bag of crisps where i’d whinge if they were anything but salt and vinegar and a bottle of water (it was a metal drinking bottle so the water would be warm and horrid by lunch but I didn’t care). I never seemed to learn that taking a chocolate bar out would result in it melting and being a blobby mess by lunch time but I didn’t care because life wasn’t about the content of my thrown together lunch, it was about hanging out with my friends and getting back in time for dinner at 7pm.
Years of summers we did this…
Then I grew up went to uni which stopped summer holidays up trees and more with head in the books, I then got a job which meant summer holidays were about distressing on a beach being purposely unproductive and snoozing away until the happy hour bell…
Then my first son arrived who was born with physical and learning disabilities.
I never thought about the summers like I did then.
How life changes.
I remember when he was four and sitting in his wheelchair / boogie and feeling the grief in my stomach, I wondered if i’d ever see him ride a bike, climb a tree, get lost in the grub lands watching the tadpoles sprout legs and finding that so fascinating that like me he would go every day to see what they looked like. Sticklebacks swam in schools in the bucks and the butterflies that flapped their wings against the back drop of the summer haze – would he find that majestic? Would he even see them?
As he got older and more mobile I was determined that we would enjoy as much of our summers as possible, the work we put in as parents and his grandparents was near exhausting sometimes but we would do everything we could to enrich his senses. We were not always met with a positive attitude, we would be turned away at venues or find venues that were unaccessible for him to be in and a lack of support and assistance when we needed it, but times are changing. As families we will not stop finding great places for our children to enjoy, for them to be in the splash pools, for them to enjoy the sand, the sea and the beach. We will keep evolving awareness and we ask those of you who manage or work within a venue to look around it and ask yourself:
“Can we support all of our families to make happy memories here?”
You can make a difference to us and I now watch both of my sons looking at butterflies when we see them, they both climb trees and enjoy their time outside.
Our children want to feel that joy, that happiness and that freedom but within a safe, supported and nurtured way. You can help us achieve that and it’s a very beautiful thing to see.