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Disabled islanders in marathon effort to give back to charity

Disabled islanders in marathon effort to give back to charity

Sunday 19 September 2021

Disabled islanders in marathon effort to give back to charity


Two runners with disabilities, who found their feet thanks to a supportive club, will be running the length of the London Marathon to raise money for a charity that supports them.

Alicia Mead and Christian Basilio (pictured top) are supported by Acorn Enterprises and are members of the Breath of Fresh Air running club.

Run by Acorn Training and Development Co-ordinator Rik de Louche, the club meets on Friday evenings and aims to help grow the confidence of those with disabilities and long-term conditions through group activities rooted in nature.

Alicia, who has difficulties with communication and can experience sensory issues, has been going to Breath of Fresh Air for two years, where she has learnt that she can be very competitive.

“I like how it makes me feel good and really helps with my anxiety and overall mental health and makes me feel like I have achieved something. Even if I am having a rubbish day, running always lifts my mood.”

Christian, who also joined the club in 2019, has since gone on to take part in ParkRun, other 5ks and one-mile tests.

“I enjoy feeling fit. It helps me sleep and improves my metabolism,” he explained.

Both said they wanted to take on the London Marathon virtually in order to give back to Acorn and the Jersey Employment Trust – a social enterprise that upskills islanders with disabilities – for its support.

“I have been going to Acorn for a couple of years. I barely spoke to anyone when I first went and I have become more talkative and I show more of my personality. It has helped me be more comfortable in group situations. It has also put meaningful routine into my week,” Alicia explained.

“I have struggled with anxiety since a young age, which can be really limiting. I struggle with communication, especially with people I don’t know. Sometimes I can become so stressed that I can’t talk. I have a range of sensory issues and I don’t handle change well. I can struggle with concentration and reading other people’s body language or understanding their tone. I struggle with crowds, waiting and uncertainty.”

Christian added: “Acorn has increased my confidence and developed my skills. It has made me realise that the only person who can improve my life is me and Acorn has also taught me how to listen.”

Also supporting Acorn will be Heather Hill, a tax compliance manager and runner of 40 marathons who is partially sighted.

“Having run about 40 marathons in my time I had concluded that I wouldn’t run any more as I had way too many T-shirts. I had also built up a habit of going on holiday and fitting in a marathon in many far-flung places but now we have restrictions on travel and events because of the pandemic. However, I have still been running and I love it and when the opportunity came up to run one final marathon for an amazing cause, I couldn’t say no. My first marathon was in London in 2003 so it seems fitting to end with a virtual London Marathon,” she explained.

Heather_1.jpg

Pictured: Heather Hill has run around 40 marathons.

“I’m very keen to support JET as I have a disability. I am partially sighted but I’m fortunate enough that there aren’t many things in life that I’m not able to do. I do appreciate that for lots of people with disabilities it isn’t that easy and I applaud the work that JET does in supporting these individuals.”

All three will be starting the Virtual London Marathon on Sunday 3 October. Each will be able to work out their own route, and has up to 24 hours to complete it.

Heather said she hoped to cover most of her miles in the west of the island.

“My plan is to run the full distance in one go. The Jersey Marathon happens to be on the same day so I’m aiming to get started early so I can be home in time for a nice recovery lunch!”

You can donate to Alicia and Christian’s fundraising page HERE and Heather’s page HERE.

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