Katie Bourke is an Accessibility & Equality Consultant and founder of Adaptable Solutions. Katie is a Public Speaker and Training Provider. She is also a Mum to two boys. Katie has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Katie has an amazing outlook on life and has not allowed anything to stand in her way of not only remaining active but at living her life to the full.
Ability isn’t a constant thing, especially when your connective tissue fails to connect. As a child I danced, on clumsy limbs, through repeated mysterious injuries, I danced. In my late teens and early 20’s my health and ability continued to decline to a point where my legs simply said no to anything more the 20 metres and my arms said no to crutches.
Being active at this point involved card and board games but being mentally active is just as important as physically active, if not more so.
I discovered the wheelchair, this terrible metal contraption that consigned me to the broken of society… if I was standing at least I could pretend to be “normal”. Having been given no instruction on the use of this metal monstrosity I found myself challenged; but with the help of friends I learned. I fell over many, many times but after years of perfecting the art at least I was now falling with a goal of mobility in mind. I could now get around without the fear of constantly falling, I could climb hills really really slowly! (Which at the time was a vast improvement on not at all)
Having embraced my wheels, an aid that allowed me to be physically active once again, I became far fitter and far more active than I have ever been. Being physically fit keeps me healthier (entirely healthy is just never going to be my reality, and that is ok), but being physically active helps my mind and my body. Getting out with friends, playing a team sport or just going for a Sunday stroll with family; these are the activities that keep your mind fit too.
In terms of my sporting endeavours, I play wheelchair basketball which allows me to challenge myself and laugh with friends. I also do fun runs or mini marathons from time to time. But what keeps me most active is my two children. With the help of my FireFly wheelchair attachment I can go for a cycle in the forest or push a football round a patch of grass… it’s the small things that are the best.
There are obviously still huge barriers for disabled people when it comes to being active, access to facilities or equipment is not guaranteed. Aids like my Firefly took time to save money for. Being active not only physically but being active in our communities also highlights these barriers and hopefully in time with remove them.
Written by Katie Bourke