Experiences come in all shapes and sizes, some are positive, some are negative, some are small and seemingly insignificant and some have the ability to shape you, change you and alter your future. I have gone through them all.
When I was younger, up until the age of 14, my experiences were pretty standard for someone my age. It was all about making friends, learning your times tables and trying to navigate the minefield that is ‘High School’ but as I got older, and my disability became more of a factor, my experiences began to change. At age 14 I discovered I needed surgery to correct Scoliosis, curvature of the spine. I was suddenly facing something I was completely unprepared for: it was a blur of test, appointments and medication leading up to an 11-hour surgery. I had to grow up practically overnight.
From that moment on I was an adult, which in some ways was fantastic because I felt so mature and in control of my life but at the same time I found it difficult to interact with people my own age. During this time, whilst on bed rest, I watched a lot of crime programmes on television and read dozens of books: which eventually led me to university and getting my degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
At the time, I didn’t realise that an experience as insignificant as watching Law & Order had set my life on a path I never thought it would take. And for a time, I was very happy working within the Criminal Justice System, volunteering with Hate Crime charities and my local police force, until new experiences carved out a different path for me.
After a breakdown in my care package meant I had to leave my work, I became angry and confused, and I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. That was until my Muscle Help Foundation ‘Earn Your Wings’ flying experience catapulted my life into a new direction and gave me a new vision of a brighter future. Simply taking part in the experience, learning new skills, developing my confidence, allowed me to realise all my experiences in life meant I had a story to tell and a dream worth exploring.
I wanted to find a way to express myself and be able to share with others what life was like with a complex need – so I created my blog “Should have been a mermaid” and from there I was asked to go to events and do talks. I became a public speaker, sharing my experiences across the UK. And now I’m honoured to be a Muscle Warrior Ambassador for the very charity that helped shape my future.
Suddenly I realised my experiences: big, small, positive and negative had led me to this point in my life. Do I wish some of the experiences had been different? Yes. Do I wish I could do some of them over again? Absolutely. But that’s not how life works – without these experiences I wouldn’t be where I am today – happy.
Get to know more about Leah here
Click HERE to learn more about our Ambassadors.
Click HERE to see our Muscletastic fundraising pack.
Click HERE to learn about the charity’s #powerof657 campaign.