Disability Topic of the Month: Nature and Wildlife

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21st April 2022
Nature and Wildlife - Earth Day - Topic of the Month

Hello Readers! My name is Toni-Marie. I will tell you just a little bit about my disability as I feel it is relevant. I have cerebral palsy quadriplegia and scoliosis of the spine. This means I am a full-time electric wheelchair user. 

Guest blogging author Toni-Marie

I think of the world and its sheer magnitude of beauty and fascination as just simply stunning. Filled with vibrant colours, millions of unique as well as diverse and truly captivating species — our planet is bursting with such an incredible amount of richness. There is no substitute for actively being a part of the world around us. Living it, breathing it, touching it, tasting it, learning about it and immersing ourselves in it.

Sir David Attenborough — Champion of Nature and Wildlife

For me, there is one man who is the absolute embodiment of our planet and that is Sir David Attenborough. Biologist, natural historian, author and broadcaster. He has been a cast-iron champion of the Earth and humanity for decades now. I admire him so much. His focus is purely on education and the protection of our planet in all sorts of different ways. His wonderment concerning the world around him is more than evident in his documentary film making. He has dedicated his whole life to inspiring future generations to carry on with his incredible legacy. Namely Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist who is known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action in the fight against climate change.

Sir David Attenborough in House of Lords

Thank You William and Kate for The Earthshot Prize

And I am very inspired and uplifted by The Royal Foundation led by H.R.H. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — William and Kate, who have now created The Earthshot Prize founded in 2021. It is the most prominent global environmental prize in history. The primary purpose of this award is to find the world’s greatest eco-friendly innovators that are striving to change the face of our planet and combat climate change.

The Earthshot Prize has five million pound prizes that will be awarded each year for the next 10 years. It will be awarded to the most inspiring teams, scientists, economists, businesses and community projects who are committed to providing solutions to the world’s greatest environmental challenges. This is an exciting time for climate change! With some real tangible power behind it to ensure that any solutions found will be sustainable and permanent. I can’t help but feel that this is an approach that should be used to combat other world issues.

First-ever Winners of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize

Accessibility in Nature and Wildlife

When I think of access to wildlife for those with any kind of disability, I think that there is more than a little bit of hesitation to explore outside of our comfort zone. I think the hesitation only exists because we will be (both potentially and knowingly) putting ourselves into a less than ideal environment.

As ever — don’t be put off by your own fear.

  • Do your research properly.
  • Be fully prepared with all the necessary clothing/accessories/equipment that you may need.
  • Contact your local Wildlife Trust armed with a clear vision of what it is that you want to do.
  • Make sure that all of your physical needs can be accommodated.
  • Be very informed of all the different types of environments within a nature reserve. For example: is it a grassed area, shingle, cobbled, paved, concrete or sand?
  • Find out how interactive it is for people who have no vision or who are partially sighted. Or those who perhaps suffer from hearing loss.

Think beyond a set of wheels when considering all of the different types of disability.

My Favourite Nature and Wildlife Presenters

Every day I am inspired by the work of conservationists like Steve Irwin and his research legacy that continues today. And I simply could not finish this blog off without mentioning the incredibly innovative, highly skilled and amazing work of Noel Fitzpatrick. He really is a super vet! Can you imagine just what he could do for humans too!? He is just so compassionate and giving!

And I am still absolutely gutted that I never got to see/spend an evening with the broadcaster, presenter and adventurer Mr Ben Fogle back in 2019. Alas, the stars did not align for this to happen — maybe next time my ticket can be at the ready!

I absolutely love animals, but I particularly love dogs! Whilst I am not the greatest lover of the traditional zoo, they can and do play a crucial role in the protection and repopulation of endangered species.

My favourite animal is a giraffe! Not least because they are way taller, more graceful and far straighter than me!

My bio on Twitter @TmWheels says, “I LOVE THE EARTH AS IT HOLDS OUR HEART.” That pretty much sums it all up for me…

Always see your ability in disability!

HAPPY EARTH DAY FOLKS!

Toni-Marie x

Disclaimer: The views expressed are the author’s own.


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