TOTAL SO FAR
Last Updated: 06 November 2019
My name is Leanne Beetham and I am a mouth artist and photographer. I was born with a condition known as Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, which causes muscles to not develop properly and stiff curved joints; consequently, I cannot use my limbs, and so have adapted to using my mouth to do most things, including painting and photography.
From a young age, I have always had an interest in both nature and art, so naturally the two combined. I wanted to understand my favourite subject in more detail; so in 2009, I completed my honours degree in Animal Behaviour & Training. It was during this time that students were given the amazing opportunity to go to Africa. Travelling to Africa has always been an aspiration of mine; to experience its wildlife and culture firsthand, and painting it, would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, the only package available at the time was unsuitable for someone with my needs to attend. However, anyone will tell you that I am fiercely determined - so when I was told that such a trip would be impossible for me, I decided to find a way to make it happen, and this is where my project began.
I initially approached major travel companies, who told me that it couldn't be done, I was being unrealistic, that I should choose an “easier” destination. This experience got me wondering how many people with disabilities have tried to do the same, been told they couldn't, and missed out because they believed them? This project all of a sudden became much bigger - it was no longer just about me and the wildlife, I needed to show others in my position that it is possible.
Eventually I happened upon a specialist company willing to accommodate my needs. This endeavour has since been turned into a customised travel package, incorporating all specialised equipment and adaptations I will need to make the trip possible. Unfortunately, I still face one major hurdle - FUNDING! Due to my disability I require constant assistance to do daily tasks - from getting in and out of bed, to going to toilet, or just getting a drink. This means that in order to make this project a success, I must also be able to fund the travel expenses of my two Personal Assistants and the hire of specialist equipment. This makes the project of much higher cost than it would be to a single able-bodied individual.
To achieve this once-in-a-lifetime goal, I must fund raise a grand total of: £12,240
The whole adventure will be documented on film, and after, I aim to hold events, talks, and and exhibitions to raise awareness of what it’s like to travel as someone with specialist needs, to educate about disability as a whole (with emphasis to ability, not disability), whilst also highlighting the importance of the natural world and conservation. Disability is not about having an inability to do things, just that we do them in a different way.
Sincerest thank you to all who have supported this project thus-far.
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