On functional and recreational walking

At the event last Monday 25th at the Aquarium for this project, someone spoke of differentiating between walking as functional and recreational, and how all the walks taken were recreational. I don’t think that’s accidental for the disabled people involved.

Speaking personally, so many years of medical history have been of doctors telling me I should walk – that is, functionally, place one foot in front of the other in order to move from one point to another. In almost 30 years of using a wheelchair, I’ve never yet seen a doctor who understood that that’s not what walking ever represented to me. It was moving through space, connecting with natural and social environments, relationships, meditation, relaxation, pleasure, mental health, tactility, and more. Those are the really important features of walking and it remains all of those things when I ‘walk’ with wheels.

More than that, in the context of this project, I chose the recreational focus for good reasons. A few people mentioned how widespread barriers mean that planning become central to disabled people’s lives. My whole life feels like planning: can I get into a place, move around, participate, be amongst people equally, what are the energy/health demands, what will be the energy/health consequences, etc, etc. It’s about all the dry stuff, the equivalent of placing one foot in front of the other in order to move from one point to another (routine, joyless). The point for me of Walking Interconnections was to explore liberation from that; it was about reconnecting with all those other things that walking always represented to me and that the medics never knew.

Liz Crow

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