Week 1- NCS residential...

You know when you have an absolutely amazing experience, or a great day- one that you'll remember and cherish for years to come? This week has been one of those times, and here is why...
 
The idea of going away to North Wales for 5 days with complete strangers probably would make the majority of people nervous, maybe even more so if you have very unpredictable medical conditions. However when Monday morning arrived I was excited for this challenge, looking forward to meeting new people and hoping for the best. I will just start off by saying that not only did I make friends in 5 days, I made friendships that makes me feel like I have known these guys for years, a whole new NCS family and I cannot thank you all enough for that.
Right from the first activity of low ropes my team realised I do not take 'no' as an option, that these physical activities weren't going to mean I sat on the side. The instructor at the time said I wouldn't be able to take part, when I questioned his judgment, his answer of "you're in a wheelchair" didn't exactly convince me otherwise- ending with me having a go despite a few shocked faces from other participants and team leaders. However I believe that our team were able to work together in other respects because the terrain of the residential being mainly in a wood, as well as up and down hills. Thanks to the staff who work there they had strategies of getting wheelchairs over the 'interesting' paths, meaning it would take 5 people to get me to different activities (a chance to get to know others and work together).
The activities, in order, which we did over the course of the week were:
  1. Low rope- a test of my non- existing balance and coordination
  2. Rock climbing- while it was raining= very slippy!
  3. Orienteering- also in the pouring rain!
  4. Frisbee golf- test of throwing skills and hardest terrain on site (did you know vertical hills existed?)
  5. Team building- attempting to make wheelbarrows...
  6. Laser zone- outdoor laser quest, the part when everyone turned into ninjas
  7. Zip wiring- climbing up a tree to get there, the zip wire itself was a rest!
  8. Raft building- so glad the weather was nice for that :)
  9. Aerial walkway- hardest obstacle course I have ever done.... 10 metres in the air.... in trees.
  10. Nightlife- blindfolded tasks (hilarious to watch!), learning that a 'sparkly pointy nay nay' is a unicorn!
  11. Problem solving- concluded I cannot stand on tires, even with crutches, safely...
  12. Caving- man made cave, when the upper body strength and bum shuffling skills came in handy
  13. Jacobs ladder- the most amazing, hardest, craziest accomplishment of them all! 
You're probably tired just reading the list, feel free to have a nap, then come back and read the rest... Back? That's good. The hardest activities which I did were actually the best, these were zip wiring, aerial walkway, caving and Jacobs ladder. However I was lucky enough to have the same instructor (picture to your right) leading all of those sessions, and she was there every step of the way, letting me do things at my own pace and cheering me on along with the rest of the team. Telling me a could complete it, rather then assuming I couldn't. Also because all of these required a harness it meant that some of my body weight was taken away by the rope being pulled tighter, making it slightly easier.
First it was the zip wire where you had to climb up a ladder on the side of the tree to reach a platform, I can gladly say that I am not scared of heights (good job really). I can remember getting to the top and just shaking from head to toe because of the energy used. It was totally worth it to go down the zip wire, through the trees and see the amazing view!
 
Aerial walkway was the day after, meaning she knew I wanted to dive straight in, give it a go and not leave till it was completed. This activity is an obstacle course which is 10- 12 metres in the air, surrounded by trees. the majority of it was walking across tightrope wires, tires and cargo nets. Now even on ground that would have been a big challenge, like the other activities I was attached to the course with a rope, meaning allegedly I could have lifted my feet up and cheated, but if you know me, there was no way I was cheating! The support which I got from the team was amazing, always cheering me on and helping if there were in front of me. Also because I was so high up it meant that other teams which were on the same NCS program, other team leaders and instructors I had previously were all cheering me on- no pressure to a large audience!
 
Last, but by no means least was Jacobs ladder (if you don't know what that is look at the picture to your left). Yes, that is me at the top, 10 metres in the air!!! This was the hardest activity on site, not for the faint hearted to begin with. You went up in pairs (I went with my groups team leader), meaning you had to work together to pull each other up and support one another as the whole thing moved. As you can see the spaces between the ladders get bigger as you go up, meaning the first 3 weren't that bad. However when I stood up on the second to last one I could only just reach it and couldn't reach the rope to pull myself up until I had been pushed up by my partner. Physically this was crazy and insane, even shocking myself! Was such a great activity to finish with, and one of the other instructors getting the whole thing on film :)
Despite the frequent powercuts, sometimes unappetizing food, spring filled beds, normally rainy weather and spending the majority of free time hunting for phone signal it has been one of the greatest weeks ever. Yes, I'm absolutely exhausted and aching like crazy but it is all completely worth it to meet some of the most amazing people and have the chance to experience loads of activities which I have never done. Thank you to everyone in team 6 for supporting my madness, see you guys on Monday for another fun filled week of independent living in university halls!

I'll update you all next weekend :)

~ Chloe x

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