At the very core of Back Up’s mission is the desire to build confidence and independence through fun and peer support, an ethos shared by Dave Shraga, who sustained a spinal cord injury as a 21-year-old young man.
When Dave organised a three month trip to Goa, India, to carry out research into local community media projects, he involved his Origin personal assistant (PA), Nic, in the planning. This was to be an epic adventure that took them both out of their comfort zones and into a challenge that put independence to the test.
The potential for ‘tummy trouble’ due to changes in food, the limited services for disabled people and complex travel arrangements were all factored into the plan.
Dave’s philosophy is that disabled people can do the most amazing things if they really want to. But he acknowledges that sometimes disabled people have to be willing to accept help and recognise this is not a compromise to their independence. He said:
“Independence is not necessarily about doing everything alone, often the greatest goals are achieved working with the people around you. Many of the skills I used in Goa, I learned from people I met through Back Up.
During the whole trip people were always willing to support me. Firstly, Regain provided me with equipment I needed to cope out there and when I got to Goa the organisation, Video Volunteers, built ramps so I could get in to the office. People also carried me in and out of planes, buses and cars.”
Unfortunately, Dave became quite poorly when in Goa, making the trip to India even more challenging. But undaunted, he said: “To make a trip like this prepare yourself, trust your PA, understand the challenge and if there is a problem, don’t panic! That’s what the back-up plan and good insurance is for – to help if you need it.”
If you have any questions about travelling or life with a spinal cord injury, you can contact our Outreach support team by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone on 020 8875 1805.