As some of you will be aware, next year I am due to the run the London Marathon. I’m not doing this for the good of my health, I’m doing it in support of the charity VICTA – Visually Impaired Children Take Action – and over the Bank Holiday weekend I went up to Swindon to help Volunteer at the 3rd Annual VICTA Family Weekend allowing me to get a chance to see some of the work that VICTA does first hand. If I’m honest whilst the weekend was fantastic fun, it was also a real learning experience for me, and just getting to meet some of the kids, see the challenges they go through, and to see how they cope was a real learning experience for me.
I had a chat with some of the VICTA staff, and the whole weekend was heavily subsidised to allow the families to come along, it was great to see these families together, with brothers and sisters looking after their VI siblings and the smiles on everyone’s faces. In the evenings I met up with some of the over 18’s who’d come along on the weekend – and even got beaten at pool by one of them. At first I found myself getting really conscious of what I was saying and doing (I know that I can use gestures quite a lot when I speak) but as time passed and I got too know them and to relax more we just had a wonderful time. One of the guys I spoke to had just moved out and was living by themselves for the first time, we were chatting about what was on TV at the moment and it was just so great to see how being visually impaired wasn’t a barrier for these guys, they just got up and got on with things.
It’s for these young people that I’m raising the money to run the marathon (though it is helping my health too). The money is for funding weekends like the one I went on, where the families can come together and all have fun. The money is for providing the equipment that these guys need to help them get through life and that extra confidence – one of the parents told me their daughter was coming back to the same centre with school, having not gone before as they didn’t think they’d be able to join in – to be able to enjoy life just as much as an non-VI person. And to be honest I can’t think of a better cause to support.
Finally the VICTA website has a lot more information about who they are and what they do – you can find it here: http://www.victa.org.uk/