Pre-accident Seachy, the confident, fit and arrogant young man was someone who exuded confidence in everything that he did. No challenge seemed too big, I was if anything over confident, I felt I was infallible. Give me a challenge I tried it, dare me to do something I did it over and over again until the point of injury or success. I worked hard to play harder and I lived life without fear. Running the Gym at Wymondham Leisure Centre (WLC) at the tender age 20 and being responsible for a huge number of members and aerobic classes I guess goes to your head a bit. I trained regularly, was a football coach and (not that even if he reads this, I’ll admit typing it to my 19 y/o son) even took pride at being able to get in from clubbing on the night bus (a thing of the past) and still make the early shift. I was surrounded by confident people. It is true that confidence breeds confidence!
So why is it that my impending trip to go and visit the new facilities at the very same place I used to work at has me wound up in knots and full of fear. I used to bounce through the reception, run through the halls, sprint flat out on the treadmills, max out the machines and this was just for fun. Thursday I will be visiting the leisure centre in my Wheelchair for the first time. It’s another one of those mental blocks that I need to get over for my own personal journey, but more than that it is my second official trip with other members of Wymondham Access Group. As the Chair of the Group I have my first official trip to a community facility to see all the things I have been hearing about, the changes that have been made over time and improvements that have been installed (well at least I hope). The reality is back in the 90’s when I was working there I thought I knew all about life, I’d done my training and I worked with various disabled groups that used the centre. Honestly though I never once remember asking them how they found the facilities. I made assumptions based on books and training, so I guess a part of me is going round full circle to start training where I first trained, to start correcting the wrongs I made, as my view is now no longer based on assumption it is now based on first hand experience and that I am regularly discovering is very different to books and rules and regulations. They only teach so much, the rest I am learning needs to come from the users or me now! So Thursday I get to visit the Leisure Centre and I hope the result of it will be the beginning of a working partnership, one that 20 years ago I would never have imagined I needed let alone would benefit from. Maybe the old arrogance will help me with new people, that’s if I can find that old arrogance.
I have one thing on my side, one secret weapon if you like, having introduced myself and the Access Group to the current WLC manager having been linked via a community connector who has been helpful in getting funding to secure the immediate future of WAG (I promise I will get to the story of WAG just other things keep coming up) and tried to organise a meeting. He was going away on annual leave and forwarded it on to the head of leisure at South Norfolk Council. Maybe this is those Norns at the base of Yggdrasil working their weaves of fate this was a Mr Steve Goddard, otherwise known to me as Stevie G, the Leisure Centre manager when I was that confident, fit and arrogant young man known as the pre-accident Seachy.
Myself and 7 others are meeting him and the Health & Safety Officer of the centre for a tour and a discussion and a coffee afterwards. I have to say my approach, when it comes to these sort of things from my work and being a mentor is one that tells me developing relationships, challenging stereotypes and educating people is the best way to bring about change. It takes me a long while to get to breaking point but you know if you have got there somewhere along the line you have fu@ked me off, and being me – it is just never my fault 🙂 I am hoping the members of WAG are the same and that our approach this week will be a positive one. I know from being on both sides of the coin how wrong I was, and we have the opportunity to something really big and really positive and implement change for future generations, we’re 25 years behind in our work than Dereham Access Group and 30 years behind Norwich Access Group so there is bound to be issues along the way, and there is bound to be defeats along the way, the art to success though is learning from the losses and celebrating the victories.
For me I am already celebrating I am getting to meet my first manager, the infamous Mr G and I am getting back into the leisure centre. If I can make it into the swimming pool by the end of 2016 I will judge this week as a success. I started working in the Leisure Centre at 16 I was a children’s party entertainer and I made some lasting friendships that although people have moved one many remain in touch. The 2 best men at my wedding I met there and I have fond memories so why I am so scared about going in this week is beyond me. I am just hoping that being there in an official capacity and seeing a friendly face will help the fear inside me locked away! Oh how the arrogance have fallen. Worst of all though is when I think about why I feel that way it is because my body now looks nothing like it did then and I am embarrassed and ashamed, crazy that a disability can do all this to you, crazy as I type it, but it is true. As a person I have grown as a body I certainly grown!
If I can Thursday’s positive will be about my visit…………….