Many people with learning difficulties find it hard to maintain self-confidence; often this is the result of being told of their 'limitations' instead of their actual potential. Vulnerable people may feel that they have little choice in the activities and challenges they want to undertake, and this can contribute to a self-limiting disbelief in their own talents and abilities.
ubu believe that if you treat a person as they are, they will remain as they are. But if you treat a person as they could be, then they will become as they should be. This philosophy is at the heart of everything we do.
One such way ubu deliver this is to encourage the people we serve to find new, exciting and effective ways to improve health and fitness. Physical activity and outdoor leisure pursuits are integral to our overall emotional wellbeing. They can prove - to ourselves and to those doubting voices - that we can accomplish great things, and this helps build our self-esteem.
In support of National Learning Disability Week, ubu is sharing the incredible stories of the people we serve who challenge the definiton of disability and are enjoying full, active lives.
Barrie is from Leeds, and is as energetic and active as they come. Whatever Barrie is doing, be it sport or social event, he approaches it with an enthusiasm and vibrancy that is infectious for everyone around him.
Recently Barrie decided to work with his ubu enabler to try out a new sport. He was inspired by many of his friends who have become engaged in a wide variety of sporting and fitness pursuits, and he thought, "why not give that a go?"
Barrie and his enabler decided to try their hands at canoeing and sailing. It was a great challenge. It is sometimes difficult to find suitable facilities that enable people with disabilities to participate. Getting in and out of the boat and ensuring safety was obviously very important. Fortunately, Barrie’s local activity centre has excellent facilities and trained support staff. With the right support and a good wind, he was soon out on the open water, enjoying the fresh air and new vistas.
The activity centre offers loads of sports adapted to suit people’s individual needs and this has been a brilliant source of inspiration. Barrie is now setting his sights on other sporting challenges on offer, like rock-climbing and caving.
We wish his support team all the best in trying to keep up.
Joanne, who is also from Leeds, has a passion for horse-riding. Her mum is involved in a local equestrian centre and Joanne has been fortunate to enjoy the facilities there for many years. She frequently visits the equestrian centre and as well as riding, takes part in a variety of other activities. “I really enjoy being there, helping out and I love being around the horses in the stables” says Joanne. “I have won many awards and rosettes and love to show these off when people visit my home”.
Horse-riding has long been recognised for its therapeutic benefits, both physical and psychological. All over the country equestrian centres are offering riding lessons and experiences to people with a range of learning disabilities and complex behaviours including autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
Horse-riding has helped to develop Joanne’s ability to communicate and improve her physical wellbeing. Joanne can now ride her horse unaided and this is an achievement she has worked hard to realise. Her recent ‘Endeavour Award’ was the result of this hard work and determination.
But Joanne is not content to rest on her laurels. She continues to challenge herself, to set and achieve new goals. All of us here at ubu cannot wait to see the great things she achieves next.
UK Learning Disability Week 2015
According to the Department of Public Health, there are an estimated 1.5 million people in the UK who have a learning disability. Most people’s learning disability occurs from birth or a childhood illness and the effects are life-long. However, this does not include limiting a person's right to freedom and personal choice. It's important that people find the right, personalised support to lead a full and active life - the life they want for themselves - and to have the same opportunities as everyone else. UK Learning Disability Week was launched to help raise awareness of the contributions of learning disabled people across the country, of the issues and barriers they may experience in society, and to challenge public misconceptions.
ubu is proud and honoured to work with people such as Barrie and Joanne, who are doing just that. To read more stories like Barrie's and Joanne's, please visit our news page and follow us on Twitter @ubusupport.