We recently attended the Naidex Exhibition 2022 in Birmingham, and what a fantastic time we had. We had the privilege of meeting so many Neo Walkers walking proudly with their gorgeous acrylic walking sticks.
A joy to see.
They stood out from everyone else.
They wore a smile.
They held their heads high.
They were proud.
Consider this. There is so much guilt, shame and stigma surrounding using mobility aids today. I think this is felt acutely by the younger generation of disabled people coming through. The reluctancy to use them even when they should is a repetitive story we hear. They are relieved when they find Neo Walk, and to find colourful, customisable funky walking sticks to use as an extension of themselves and their style and fashion.
Society today is so quick to judge everyone.
Are you pretty?
Are you thin?
How are you dressed?
Do you have the latest phone?
Have you got a limp?
What are those scars?
What is wrong with you?
This question always totally grinds my gears whenever I hear it.
I recently raised the subject of inaccessible, brand new self- checkout tills at my local store, M&S. Once again our community had been totally overlooked, and none of them were wheelchair accessible.
Someone replied to me on Twitter saying “why don’t you just get someone normal to put your shopping through the till for you”.
So, what is wrong with you, and why aren’t you normal are the words sitting on Joe Public’s lips, just waiting to spill out to anyone with a disability or who appears to be different to them.
I presume Joe Public has examined himself very closely and checked he is totally normal and there’s nothing wrong with him! I wonder what bench mark he is using? Donald Trump? Kanye? BoJo?
Anyone with any kind of disability is dealing with the loss of a function, a limb, a sense, and they live with this loss every day. To compound this, we are constantly challenged by living in a world that is not built for us and immediately limits our life opportunities and our social experiences. Compound this further with a society that challenges our right to even be there just because we are not shaped, coloured, behave or sound like them.
There is a long way to go before we see any real equality happening. It’s a shame there isn’t more discussion around it in schools, teaching children and teenagers to look beneath the surface and see a person for who they really are within their words, actions and beliefs.
Isn’t it marvellous when a beautiful walking sticks helps someone go out into the world with confidence on their life journey. To challenge people to look further, and to walk the no mans land between the normal and the not, in the hope that this divide becomes smaller and smaller.
We may not be able to mend our missing limbs, muscle and nerve pains, misfiring neurones and misbehaving joints, but we sure as heck can help our souls heal from the loss we live with by using a good looking sexy walking stick.