Karen Thomas, a Physiotherapy MSc student at University of Birmingham, is challenging herself to spend one week in a wheelchair to raise awareness of people with spinal cord injury and the work of Back Up.
The 21-year-old discovered Back Up in 2013 when two of her closest friends were told they might never walk again as a result of serious accidents. “It was a tough time for my friends and in the early stages of rehabilitation they were told about Back Up, so I became a volunteer."
Karen, who is a volunteer on Back Up’s Skills for Independence course, is doing her wheelchair challenge in the first week of June. During the week, she will complete a series of “mini challenges” around the university, her local town and Birmingham. “Many able-bodied individuals don’t think about wheelchair access so I am hoping to make people aware of it but also to show what improvements have been made in Birmingham.”
As a student at University of Birmingham, Karen thinks it’s important to show her peers the challenges faced by wheelchair users everyday. “Students are not made aware of what spinal cord injury is and its implications. This means that young people with spinal cord injury may feel anxious about going to university.”
“I really want to see how students react to me being in a wheelchair and I hope my challenge will help them to feel more comfortable around wheelchair users. I also want to use this opportunity to inform and educate as many students as possible about spinal cord injury.”
Karen also started a blog where she will share her unique experiences during the wheelchair challenge, as well as informative articles about spinal cord injuries.
You can support Karen by donating here.