Active Communities - Abigail's story
I am a mum of four young boys so time for myself has never been a priority for me. I used to be active as a child but as I got older and had children this fell beside the wayside and other things became more important in my life. After having the boys I put on quite a bit of weight, which coupled with being away from work knocked my confidence.
I saw a flyer in the school newsletter for buggy walks but wasn't confident enough to go on my own. I begged my friend to come with me and she did. The first walk was very gentle which I enjoyed and for the next week I persuaded another friend to come along.
Over the weeks other mums joined us and I started building a nice group of friends who I met once a week for a walk and to socialise with.
I started to look forward to a Friday morning and as the confidence of myself and the other mums grew, Laura the walk leader suggested we have a go on the gym equipment at the park at the beginning of the sessions. I felt comfortable with the group and Laura to give it a go - before long we were doing this as a weekly part of the session and also a little circuit of exercises around the park while the kids played. For the first time in my life I could do pull ups and it felt great!
I looked forward to our weekly meets not just for the social side but also for the exercise - to try and challenge myself a bit more. In February I was diagnosed with a milk allergy- this and the confidence I had gained gave me the kick up the bum to look after myself and take time for me- I wanted to exercise more, I wanted to think about what I ate and choose healthier options - I was feeling good.
Since starting buggy walks I have lost 21lbs in weight and have recently started thinking I would like to try running- and would love to aim to complete a 5k run.
Laura let us know about a buggy walk leader course that was coming up and encouraged me to go on it I thought why not! I am now a qualified health walk/buggy leader and from January I will be the new lead of the buggy walk group in Sydenham. I am busy chatting to mums and meeting new people trying to recruit them- something I would never have had the confidence to do before.
I have also enrolled back at college and start a fitness instructor course in March which I can't wait to start.
Thanks to buggy walks I have made some great friends and have gained the confidence to invest in myself again - it feels great.
Active Communities - Bob and Ann's story
I am the carer of my wife Ann who has Vascular Dementia. Ann's problems started in 2014, small inconsistencies, like giving birthday gifts of £20 to one grandchild and a couple of weeks later £10 to another, I then decided to see a doctor for tests. Ann was diagnosed last December. She was placed on Donepezil which had an immediate improvement. Since then, things gradually deteriorate bit by bit. Time is the main problem; she has no idea of which month, day and hour it is.
We first came across the Boccia sessions that SASP were starting at our local Alzheimer's meeting. Jen and Laura ran a taster session for us to try in an environment that we are familiar with and comfortable in which I think really helped to get people having a go. I had seen Boccia on television but never played it and both Ann and I thought it was good fun. Laura and Jen were very friendly, encouraging and helpful, all in all we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
We started going along to the Boccia sessions at Kings down and were joined by others from the Alzheimer's group. For me the sessions are a godsend, I am able to meet fellow carers in the same situation as me and we in turn relieve some pressure for one another for that short period of time each week.
Ann looks forward to going to Boccia every week to play, not just to play but talking to others, the fun competition the game and the group bring, but most importantly to meet other friendly people.
Since starting the Boccia group with Laura, we have progressed on to playing Boccia twice a week and playing short mat bowls. I now also play in the walking football group that Laura also runs once a week. I haven't got round to persuading Ann to come along to football yet, but perhaps when the better weather comes around again!