This is a story about service user involvement, which involves co-production with partner agencies, equality and accessibility for people with disabilities, and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle for both staff and service users. It literally ticks all the boxes!
A couple of months ago Andy Lynch, the W.A.L.K. Project Co-ordinator from EDLC, came to visit the ABI Café to talk about walking as part of a healthy lifestyle. ABI Café is our monthly group for people affected by Acquired Brain Injury in East Dunbartonshire. It meets on the first Thursday of the month at the Kirkintilloch Baptist Church.
Andy was talking to the group about the problem with inactivity. Inactivity is one of the biggest indicators of poor health outcomes and premature death, and Government guidance says that we should all be trying to get a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity: it keeps the heart and lungs working; it keeps the joints moving; keeps the muscles toned; and helps with balance and posture.
But walking also has benefits for mental health and wellbeing too. Walking can be a social activity, you walk with family and friends, the endorphins released from the exercise lifts your mood, you get to see parts of your local area that you would not otherwise see from a car or a bus.
One of the ABI Café members, a wheelchair user, asked if you would still feel the benefits of going for a walk even if you were in a wheelchair. It still gets you out in the fresh air, there is still a social aspect to it, and for someone who is used to going from the door to a taxi or a minibus you would certainly see parts of the local area that you do not normally see. So we asked if there was any interest in going for a quick half-hour walk after the ABI Café in May, and quite a few members of the group said yes.
Andy is a trained Paths For All Walk Leader, and he maps out and risk-assesses all the walking routes in the local area. He had never done this before for a wheelchair-accessible walk, but he rose to the occasion and came up with a low-risk route with no high kerbs, no steep gradients, wide enough for people to walk past a wheelchair, all the things you would never consider if you were just ‘going for a walk’.
So on Thursday 7th May, after the regular ABI Café meeting, we had the inaugural ‘Walk ‘n’ Roll’ wheelchair-accessible Health Walk. The route took us from the Kirkintilloch Baptist Church, along Cowgate to the canal at St Mary’s Parish Church, up the canal towpath to the Hillhead Bridge, and back down the other side of the canal to Freeland Place, and back down to Kirkie Baptist again. The walk took about 40 minutes, the sun was shining, and we had a great time.
The consensus was that it had been a great success, and everyone wants to do it again after the ABI Café on the 4th of June at 3:00pm. The walk is accessible for wheelchair users, people who use mobility aids and sticks, as well as people without mobility issues. If you would like to know more about the Walk ‘n’ Roll, you can contact us at Ceartas on 0141 775 0433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the full range of Health Walks in East Dunbartonshire, contact Andy Lynch on 0141 777 3070 or look up the EDLC website.