Social media has been responsible for connecting a group of people with diabilites and paved the way for them all to meet and enjoy a caravan and camping trip to Broken Hill recently.
Sofie Wainwright of ABC News recently spoke to a few of those involved and outlines many of the benefts.
The gthering emanated from a social media page. Its main purpose was to make way for caretakers, people with disabilities, and those suffering from serious illnesses to volley ideas on ways to make camping and caravan travel more accessible.
The group has more than 800 members and about 20 of them travelled to Broken Hill to participate in the gathering.
Allen Farnham travelled from Pittsworth in Queensland. Allan has a spinal injury and severe arthritis. He According to him, the crowd created a sense of community and acceptance.
“I haven’t really been able to sit down and talk to people about things that have happened to me,” Mr Farnham said.
“I also have PTSD, type two diabetes, and I have found I can sit down with any of these people here and freely talk about what my pain is, what my pain does to me, and they sit and listen [and] they don’t judge.”
Camping – a liberating experience
Stephen Crocker, a pulmonary fibrosis patient, continues to journey through the state’s central coast and doing what he loves best.
According to Stephen, his disability will not be a hindrance to him. He gathers strength by being with others who weather the same storm.
“We’ve always enjoyed camping with the family, so we just wanted to continue doing it,” Mr Crocker said.
“Sure, I’m a bit slower, but to this day it hasn’t held me back.
“My wife and I both went out and did courses so that she knows exactly what I need to do as far as hooking the van up … so if I ever become incapacitated my wife can do it.
“All of us here have different types of disabilities and I sit down and talk to them and ask them how they do things.”
No time to lose
Lyndal Wood, together with her husband, travels from Melbourne and has been living in their caravan for about a year. Lyndal has chronic arthritis.
Lyndal shared the story of how they embraced a lifestyle of traveling and uncertainty when she realized that her mobility is slowly beginning to constrain. She did not know how long it would take before she had to finally rely on a wheelchair.
“I have handles all around the van to help me move around and as I lose more mobility we’ll just keep adapting,” she said.
“It takes a lot less to do it bit by bit than do it in all in one hit. It’s also a lot cheaper than living in a house.
“I [couldn’t] afford some of the medications and the doctor’s fees and stuff if we were living in a house and having to pay the bills all the time.”
According to Lyndal, it’s a support group who offers the necessary encouragement to people with disabilities who, like them, also want to travel. But she admitted there’s still a long way to go.
She said that there must be a faster and easier way for doctors to get a hold of their medical records. Even at different locations, their information must be accessible. Other than that, she said that more caravan sites should advertise whether their establishments have disabled-friendly amenities.
Lyndal wished that someday there would be more caravans that are specially designed for people with disabilities.
“Caravans are made for able-bodied people; there’s not much space in a lot of them,” she said.
“Anybody who staggers or falls easily or needs to use a wheelchair or walking stick … they have a lot of trouble getting around in the vans.
“When you try and do a mod to your caravan, it’s hugely expensive, and there’s very few people out there doing it, and there’s really not the technology or anything to help you do it.”