Here at Beyond Limits, we love supporting our adventurers, we love supporting good ideas, and we love supporting charity. So, when BL contributor Justin Miles told us about his efforts to raise awareness of brain injury among children, by kayaking across Britain, we wanted to shout it from the rooftops!
So, here is a letter of information and appeal from Justin. As the event approaches, we will have articles about the event, as well as Justin’s preparation for it, as well as a full personal reflection from him at the end of his trip. Over to Just!
Calling All Adventurers…
I need your help to make a project work.
project is a kayak trip from one side of England to the other. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing new and I certainly won’t break any speed records but I am hoping that with lots of help, it can be used to make a difference to the lives of a group of children.
A few years ago my life changed when I had a car accident which left me with brain injuries and having to learn to walk and talk again. The hard parts, probably the hardest parts always centred around other people.
My own family and friends found it tough enough. I’d gone from bouncing around all over the place to being this 5’7” pillar of jelly on a plate – I knew what I wanted to do but I had very little control over how everything moved. As I recovered a little things did get slightly easier and movement returned, but I would still wobble as I walked, struggle to talk without slurring, take ages to reply in a conversation (conversations were always a little one sided – but I try to make up for it now!) and would dribble almost continuously from the corner of my mouth.
Encountering strangers was always an ‘interesting’ experience. Brain injuries are invisible with no outwardly signs, so how could people know? Because I couldn’t respond quickly enough to sentences thrown at me I was branded as ‘rude’ or ‘ignorant’ and on several occasions I was given abuse for being drunk in the morning – it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t walk in straight lines!
The injuries also altered my moods and behaviour. People on the street didn’t see that part, just the people close to me – my family and friends. One minute I’d laugh for no reason and the next minute I’d be in tears.
Twelve years on I’m glad to say that almost everything is back to normal – but it’s a great excuse to misbehave!
I have a great empathy for anyone who has suffered a brain injury of any kind, child or adult. Brain injuries are difficult to cope with for all concerned from the ‘victim’ to their families and friends. Kids in particular get a very hard time because they often appear to be just badly behaved children and branded as ‘trouble makers’.
The Children’s Trust understand all of this, and they work exclusively with kids who have brain injuries and their families and help the live as normal a life as possible.
I started the ‘Channel to Channel’ project, a simple kayak trip from the Bristol Channel to the English Channel not just to raise funds for the Children’s Trust, but to help make more people aware of the problems facing children with brain injuries; the more people understand the easier their lives become.
With a small band of helpers we’re trying to engage as many people as we can, raising awareness of the battles faced by these kids every single day and with your help we make it even more of a success.
What I’m asking for is for you to join me on the trip itself; on the water, running or cycling along the footpaths next to us, swimming along side the kayakers or using whatever mode of transport you like (and is legal!). You can join in for an hour, a day or for the whole trip, whatever suits – but please tell as many people as you can.
In return I can’t offer you very much but you will know that by giving up just a few hours of your time you would have made a huge difference to the lives of these children.
If you can join in, or if you have any other ideas, please do get in touch.